Ease of Doing Business: FG Reduces Number of Days for Business Registration

Lawyer no longer required to register business with CAC
Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
In pursuit of ease of doing business in Nigeria, the number of days required for registration of new businesses with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) is now two as against 10 days hitherto required for the exercise.

This decision was part of the resolutions of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) meeting at the end of the 60-day action plan on Ease of Doing Business in Nigeria reforms held in the Presidential Villa on Monday.
The council which took off on February 21, this year was set up by President Muhammadu Buhari, and chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

However, yesterday’s meeting was presided over by Minister of Transport, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, in view of the ongoing investigation of suspended Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir Lawal and Director-General of National Intelligence Agency (NIA) being presided over by Osinbajo.

The council also set up a 24-hour timeline for company registration from the day application form is completed and all required documents made available while prospective business owners can now search on CAC portal (www.cac.gov.ng) to avoid duplication of names.
The move is also aimed at preventing the selection of prohibited names so that company registration will no longer require the services of lawyers “as it is now optional for SMEs to hire lawyers to prepare registration documents.”

According to excerpts of the council’s report made available to journalists last night by the vice-president’s media aide, Mr. Laolu Akande, integrated FIRS e-payment solution into CAC portal to enable e-stamping has been introduced while the reform empowers CAC internal lawyers to certify company incorporation forms and conduct statutory declaration of compliance for a fixed fee of just N500.
The report also listed “dealing with construction permits, getting electricity, registering property, getting credit and paying taxes as some of the areas where the council has recorded progress in the past 60 days.”

Other reforms introduced by the council include “entry and exit of people,” indicator which includes simplified visa-on-arrival process; infrastructural improvements at the Abuja airport and the new Immigration Regulation 2017.
The report also stated that the completed reforms were being closely monitored to ensure diligent implementation with minimal disruption while pending reforms were being escalated to ensure completion in the coming weeks.

On trading across borders, some of the completed reforms, according to the report, include palletisation of imports, advanced cargo manifests, reduction in documentation requirements and scheduling of joint physical examination by the Nigeria Customs Service.
The National Action Plan contained initiatives and actions implemented by responsible Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), the National Assembly, a number of State Governments as well as some private sector stakeholders.

PEBEC emphasised that with the conclusion of implementation of the action plan, the next phase would bother on “deepening existing reforms; completing and implementing pending initiatives; engaging with the public; validating completed reforms and kicking-off medium-term reforms.”

The report added that the council would also kick-start “sub-national reforms across Nigeria’s 36 states; trading within Nigeria; kick-off of initiatives and reforms improving business processes and regulations within Nigeria; and ease of movement of goods within and across regions in Nigeria.”
Some of the members of PEBEC at yesterday’s meeting were Foreign Affairs Ministers Geoffrey Onyeama, Minister of State for Industry Trade & Investment, Aisha Abubakar, and her counterpart in Budget & National Planning Zainab Ahmed, the Head of Service, Mrs. Winifred Oyo-Ita, among others.

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