When it was first muted, many commentators did not find it newsworthy for any deep analysis. Yet, the administration carried on working on the finer details of how doing business in Nigeria could become fun rather than the complications we face everyday. If Nigerians pass through hell to get a start-up off the block, what is the fate of the almost elusive foreign investors? Therefore when news broke during the week that Acting President Yemi Osinbajo has approved a national action plan to improve the business environment in the country, it sounded refreshing. This means, the initial talk about this was not swept under the carpet. The plan is to be implemented across three priority areas: Entry and Exit of goods; Entry and Exit of people and Government’s Transparency and Procurement, over the next two months (60 days).
The Federal Government says by the announcement that it hopes to deliver tangible changes for small and medium scale enterprises, SMEs in Nigeria and help improve Nigeria’s rankings in the World Bank Doing Business Index 2018. By having a joint meeting with the National Assembly leadership, led by Senate President Bukola Saraki and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, Osinbajo has signified his intention on how he wants to move things as quickly as possible now that he is acting on President Muhammadu Buhari’s behalf. The agreement he reached with the National Assembly is to, within the next 60 days, pass some specific bills that are critical to improving the business environment in the country.
The meeting also included other members of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PBEC). The body is chaired by Osinbajo himself. Saraki, who spoke to State House Correspondents after the meeting, said areas that the National Assembly will be working on soon include the Credit Bureau Bill and Collateral Transactions Security Bill.
The Senate President, however, stressed that lack of steady electricity supply to Nigerians has remained a major problem to improving the business environment in the country. “Some of the issues about addressing business environment need legislation and we have been talking about what is our own responsibility there. “We have taken away today some of the bills that we need to address, particularly looking at access to credit, credit bureau, transactions, a lot of SMEs that don’t have fixed assets, we need to see how it can be addressed so that they can have access to credit. These are some of the bills we need to pass in order to improve the business environment,” Saraki stated.
The Senate President also explained that yesterday’s meeting was a strong signal to investors both local and foreign that the present administration was prepared to make things easy for them in order to improve the lives of Nigerians too.
Acting President Osinbajo, in his remarks earlier, said that the Federal Government was looking at three broad areas in trying to improve ease of doing business, which include entry and exit of goods, entry and exit of persons into Nigeria and the whole general government transparency and efficiency in government agencies and parastatals. Osinbajo explained that the whole idea is to provide an environment for those who want to do business (both local and foreign) in Nigeria.
“A lot of work has already been done, there are pieces of legislation that we are also looking forward to seeing and we have been working with the National Assembly to ensure that these pieces of legislation are passed. “Of course, there are some improvements which we expect to see at our ports, airports, seaports, immigration, granting of visas and those kinds of things.
“We have set timelines for ourselves to ensure that we are not just speaking about these things without necessarily tying ourselves down to specific timelines. So, we are looking forward to an improved business environment in the shortest possible time,” the acting President stressed. The Federal Government is presently partnering with the Georgian Government to tap from their experience in order to make speedy progress on improving the business environment in Nigeria. PEBEC was established in July 2016 by President Muhammadu Buhari to remove critical bottlenecks and bureaucratic constraints to doing business in Nigeria. We urge Nigerian entrepreneurs to key into this initiative and see the benefits that will come through. Government on her part must remove all residues of corruption on the path to achieving this. If visa is on arrival so should it be and no one should be made to pay any form of bribery to get into the country.