CFL Group Unveils Nigeria Ease of Doing Business Initiative

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*Plans periodic appraisal of federal, state governments

Gboyega Akinsanmi

CFL Group, an indigenous infrastructure development company, has unveiled the Nigeria Ease of Doing Business Initiative (NEDBI), which it recently set up to help improve the country’s ease-of-doing business ranking.

The group, which has 14 different subsidiaries, has equally revealed a plan to appraise, monitor and rank the federal and state governments monthly, based on the parameters the World Bank often used to rate countries on the ease of doing business.

Chief Facilitator of NEDBI, Mr. Lai Omotola disclosed this at a news conference he addressed recently in Lagos to unveil the initiative, saying it was an initiative to monitor the progress made by the Federal Government and the 36 State Governments in Nigeria.

Of the 190 countries appraised on the ease of doing business in 2017, the World Bank ranked Nigeria in 169th position, though it was a marginal improvement compared with the country’s 170th ranking in 2016.

Consequently, Nigeria’s poor ranking has been inhibiting the flow of foreign direct investments (FDIs), thereby complicating the country’s economic challenges, deepening unemployment crises and limiting investment opportunities for domestic investors among others.

However, Omotola said the initiative “is a child of CFL group. It is purely a private initiative. We have decided to come up with this initiative to monitor the progress made by the federal government and 36 state governments in Nigeria.

“The federal government said it would make deliberate efforts to improve the ease doing business in the country. Like every word of commitment, we will make sure this commitment is impactful. This is our own philosophy of how the economy could be further improved.”

He explained that there “are 10 indices often used to measure the ease of doing business globally. What we have discovered is that for every index we see, we look at the parastatal in charge of every sector and examine it. The first index is starting a business. The first step of starting a business in Nigeria is registration of the company name.

“The Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) has said Nigerians can register their companies in 48 hours. As practitioners, we have not experienced it. The fastest that we have seen so far is a fortnight. Our strategy is to classify all businesses according to sectors”.

He explained the objective of the initiative, which he said, was designed “to engage the 36 states and see the ease of doing business. We will play an advisory role to the governments at national and sub-national levels. We will begin to rate ease of doing business in each state monthly.

“We will rate parastatals that are important to the country’s economy monthly to put the Chief Executives of federal ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) on their toes. We will look at other indices aside those that were listed by the World Bank,” he explained.

According to him, “the CAC tells us that it is easy to do register companies online. We will test it and organise focused discussion with the CAC. At that forum, lawyers and other stakeholders will sit down and engage the agency. Another is getting a work permit.”

He said the World Bank “sets the parameter because in every economy, one of the boosters is construction of houses. It is very important. We all know no one can start construction without having any approval. For instance, when one wants to construct a building and has about one year.

“Within the timeframe, he was frustrated in getting building approval. Perhaps he spends six months of the construction struggling to secure building approval. There is no state today that can issue building approval within two weeks. Lagos now has electronic planning permit.”

Beyond the ten indices the World Bank used to measure ease of doing business, the chief facilitator disclosed that the initiative would look into other issues that the World Bank did not consider.

He cited staffing as one of the parameters, which he said, would guide the initiative in appraising the federal and state governments on the ease of doing business.

He said staffing it “is a real challenge in the country. Besides, we will factor in security. Though the World Bank did not consider it, it is a big issue in our country. Presently, every Nigerian provides his or her own security.

“Likewise, infrastructure is critical. We have to do it by ourselves. Besides, we have education. Our education is not tailored towards the expected outcome. It is lopsided. The town has lost synergy with the gown.

“It is expected that both should work together. Also, the gown is expected to assist the town. But the gown is not aware of the current trend. Finally, we will consider the economy, especially the micro and macro-economic stability,” he added.