Tobi Soniyi in Abuja
The Presidency and the National Assembly tuesday in Abuja agreed to pass into law all executive bills seeking to remove all encumbrances which make doing business in Nigeria a nightmare.
The bills, which included the Credit Bureau Bills and the Collateral Transactions Security are to be passed within 60 days.
The agreement was reached after an expanded meeting of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council chaired by the Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja which had the Senate President, Bukola Sakari and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara in attendance.
Others in attendance were the Attorney General of Federation and Minister of Justice; Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, Minister of Trade and Investments, Mr. Okechukwu Enelamah former Prime Minister of Georgia, among other relevant stakeholders
Osinbajo, who briefed State House Correspondents after the meeting said the leadership of the National Assembly was co opted into the meeting to get the support of law makers to pass the bills which are already pending before the National Assembly into law.
He explained why the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, attended the meeting.
Osinbajo said: “This is an expanded meeting of presidential enabling business environment council and we have had the pleasure and privilege of having the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives. The whole idea of course being to work together on trying to improve business environment in Nigeria.”
He said the meeting considered three broad areas that would help to improve ease of doing business.
There he said are: 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.
According to him, the whole idea is to provide an enabling environment for those who want to do business (both local and foreign) in Nigeria.
He noted that a lot of work had already been done, adding that 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 were passed.”
The acting president also said there would be Improvements at seaports, airports and issuance of visas to immigrants.
“We have set time lines for ourselves to ensure that we are not just speaking about these things without necessarily tying ourselves down to specific time lines. So, we are looking forward to an improved business environment in the shortest possible time.”
Also speaking on behalf of the National Assembly, Saraki said their presence at the meeting was to ensure there was the synergy between the legislature and the executive for the realisation of the set objectives in the Nigerian business climate.
He said: “Seeing myself and the Speaker here as part of the expanded meeting of the Business Environment Council is to stress the importance of the meeting. It is a very good initiative. Some of the issues about addressing business environment are policy issues but there are some that 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.”
Saraki said that meeting and working together with the executive wiould make it much easier to work on the laws
The meeting, he said, also sent a strong message to investors.
“We have given ourselves timelines. We have been given 60 days for some specific bills to be passed and we hope and promise that we will do that on our own part. It is a good initiative and it will go along way to improve business environment,” he added.
Fielding questions from journalists afterwards, Saraki dismissed the insinuation that the 60 days time line undermined the independence of the legislature.
He said: “No, no, no. Whether executive or legislature, we are all working for one government and for our people. You see, they are already doing things that we are already doing but this is to ensure there is no duplication. We are all setting for ourselves deadlines some of them have already been passed by the Senate and the House has passed but there are some they are interested in which we also have. We are not fighting here,” he said.
Reminded that one of the problems with enabling environment was unstable power supply, the Senate President said that they were working on that.
“The issue of power supply goes beyond enabling law. There are a lot of factors that go into that. You know we held a summit which was initiated by National Assembly with all stakeholders in the power sector, looking at distribution, generation.
“The problems are enormous, we have talked about that and we are waiting for the technical report to come, and then there will be a meeting with the minister and then we will begin to address that and then we will begin to see result.
“We did mention at that summit that we were at a crisis and we need to come out with some things. Things were done wrongly in the past but we cannot continue to cry over that we need to come up with some solutions and we will come up with those solutions,” Saraki stressed.
Meanwhile, giving highlights of the outcomes of the meeting earlier, the Deputy Chief of Staff to the Vice President, Prof. Ade Ipaye, said the former Prime Minister of Georgia participated in the meeting.