Sunday Okobi

The Chief Executive Officer of RSM International Limited, an international audit and tax consulting firm, Mrs. Jean Stephens, has identified ease of doing business, ease of capital funding, safety and security as vital tools for business growth in Nigeria.

She noted that RSM as an international business organisation is pleased with the improvement from the ease of doing business in Nigeria.
According to her, “Having strong regulations, and enforced regulations, a safe and informed ways of doing business is critical to investment coming into Nigeria. This implies that we are on a good road for that and we are looking to see more of that.”

Speaking during a visit to S.I.A.O, an audit firm in Lagos recently, Stephens, who expressed delight on the improvement in the Nigerian business development, said: “Nigeria presently has a record of steady growth and improved political stability. Recent rebasing of Nigeria’s GDP made it the largest economy and market in Africa and the 26th largest in the world. Nigeria’s annual growth rate averaged 7 percent over the past decade which was a plus, she stressed.

Stephens added: “We had a roundtable discussion with some of our clients, and all the issues concerning security, transparency of the ways of doing business in Nigeria, the ease of doing and the ease of capital. I think those factors are challenges in doing businesses.
“Also, I think the global community is seeing that Nigeria is addressing those challenges under the present administration and it is very well received by the global community, and that needs to continue. From discussions last night, it seems that there is willingness and a desire. They understand the value this will bring to your economy.”

Furthermore, she said that since almost 40million Nigerians live in the consuming class household, the country should be regarded as one of the fastest growing economies in the world with the GDP in 2015 at US$510 billion.
To sustain this annual growth rate, she said the Nigeria’s economy should be liberalised, while government should promote public-private partnership (PPP) and encourage strategic alliances with foreign firms, especially for infrastructure development and technology acquisition in critical sectors such as security, power generation, transportation and healthcare.

“The considerable strides that Nigeria made in the recent decade has not been fully recognised outside the country, because Nigeria’s security challenges have gain more coverage in the media than its economic success.
“Therefore, having strong regulations, and enforced them aid safe and informed ways of doing business which is critical to investment coming into Nigeria. But with what Nigeria has achieved over the years in its economy, it implies that we are on a good road, and we are looking to see more of that,” she added.

Speaking further, she: “African countries need to invest in infrastructure, both human and physical. Without these investments, their growth will not be sustainable.

On RSM partnership with S.I.A.O, she stated that the partnership has been wonderful, adding that: “We had meaningful discussions; I have met them over the years and I have met their leaders at international conference over the years. Today, I have the opportunity to come here and observe that they have a very strong capability in terms of serving clients. Our members have been working with them for three years with great success in terms of doing business in Nigeria, their responses has been highly valuable.

“They have very bright set of individuals who are passionate about building the business and serving people. We are here because we want to continue to provide support and development in Nigeria, so we have stronger partnership as we go forward.”

On his part, Managing Partner RSM South Africa, Brian Eaton, said: “As far as the international audit is concerned, from the South African perspective, we have been rated number one. From RSM perspective, we expect all our members to comply with RSM International standards. Quality is very important to us.”

IMF Highlights Ways to Better Manage Government Pay

Governments should focus on delivering quality public services by effectively managing their wage bill, through adequate fiscal planning, competitive compensation, and employment flexibility, an International Monetary Fund (IMF) staff paper has stated.

The paper, “Managing Government Compensation and Employment,” which builds on new data sets and 20 country case studies, showed that governments can accommodate changing demands and deliver high-quality public services by better managing their wage bill.

Speaking to IMF Survey, Deputy Division Chief, Mercedes Garcia-Escribano, and the Senior Economist,Teresa Rose Curristine, discussed ways in which governments can improve their management of pay and employment.
Garcia-Escribano, in his contribution noted that government pay and employment policies are important for the delivery of quality public services, which are crucial for the functioning of economies and prosperity of societies. “Since the wage bill is a major item in government spending (on average it represents about a quarter of the budget), its management is a priority in all countries. The challenge is even more pressing when aging populations demand rising health and pension spending. This is the case in many advanced economies. Many emerging markets and low-income developing economies face demands for expanding access to key services, such as education and health care, to support inclusive economic growth and poverty alleviation,” Garcia-Escribano explained.

Furthermore, Garcia-Escribano noted that effective wage bill management is not an easy task, adding that reining in wage bill spending is even more difficult before elections and during times of economic upswing.
“In many countries, government pay appears to be higher than in the private sector, though this may not be the case for specialized or highly trained staff. Evidence also reveals that adjusting employment levels and composition—for example, in response to changing demographics—is difficult.

“Our work suggests that countries would benefit from improving medium-term wage planning, better integrating setting wages with the budget process, and more systematic wage negotiations (on an annual or multi-annual basis), as opposed to ad hoc negotiations. Regular comparisons between public and private sector pay can also enhance the ability to attract and retain staff with needed skills,” he added.

But Curristine stated that to accommodate changing demands and deliver high-quality public services, countries need appropriate institutions to better manage their wage bill. These institutions will ensure the following: Government wage bill increases do not result in a deterioration of the country’s fiscal position; government pay and employment policies need to be competitive in order to attract and retain skilled staff and incentivise performance; and that government needs to be able to adjust employment, for example, in response to demographic and technological developments.