FG: Ease of Doing Business Reforms Designed to Bring Back Relocated Coys

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    Says N30,000 monthly mortgage on housing fund has begun in 11 states
    Omololu Ogunmade and James Emejo in Abuja

    The federal government on Tuesday said all its reforms on ease of doing business and the recently signed executive orders were meant to attract back to Nigeria, companies which had relocated to other countries.

    The government also said it was committed to ensuring that the country moves up 20 places up the ladder from the 2016 ranking by World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index in the first year and be among the top 100 in the next three years.

    Nigeria was in 2016, ranked 169 out of 189 countries by the World Bank Ease of Doing Business report.
    Speaking at a workshop organised for government agencies and parastatals in the Conference Centre of the Presidential Villa on promotion of efficiency and transparency in the business environment, the Head of Service, Mrs. Winifred Oyo-Ita, said the government was committed to initiating policies aimed at enhancing business environment.

    The workshop was a follow-up to executive orders signed by acting President Yemi Osinbajo respectively on: ‘Promotion of Transparency and Efficiency in the Business Environment; Submission of Annual Budgetary Estimates by All Statutory and Non-Statutory Agencies including Incorporated Companies Wholly Owned by the Federal Government of Nigeria; and Support for Local Content in Public Procurements by MDAs of the FGN.’

    “It is worthy of note that government is committed to creating transparency in the business environment and enunciation of policies that would motivate investors to invest their funds in profitable business activities in the country. It is therefore hoped that all companies that had hitherto relocated from the country some years back, will see reasons to be convinced by the sincerity of purpose being displayed by the present administration in creating conducive business environment for genuine investors for them to be motivated to return,” Oyo-Ita said.
    However, yesterday’s workshop centred mainly on “Promotion of Transparency and Efficiency in the Business Environment,” and “Support for Local Content in Public Procurements by MDAs of the FGN.”

    Government’s move to attract companies back to Nigeria through the policy was spurred by the persistent relocation of productive countries out of Nigeria in recent times. For instance, in 2016 alone, no fewer than 20 shipping firms left the shores of the country over perceived poor government policies and global economic crisis. The aftermath of the relocation was the loss of over 3,000 jobs.

    In the same vein, ExxonMobil, Pan Ocean, Sapiem Ground Petroleum, and Hercules Offshore Nigeria Limited, in October 2016, reportedly left the country, also resulting in the loss of thousands of jobs.

    Hence, acting Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Habiba Lawal, remarked that the executive order on transparency and efficiency in business environment was one of the measures taken by the government to ensure prudent management of Nigeria’s resources and enhance business environment.

    “The successful operationalisation of the provisions of the executive order requires the collective efforts of us as the critical stakeholders in the public sector. In this regard, the objective of this workshop is an awareness campaign to introduce Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council – Ease of Doing Business Environment Secretariat (PEBEC-EBES).

    “Its operationalisation is expected to usher in a new vista in the conduct of government business that would encourage more commitment in the delivery of public services devoid of corruption, indiscipline and ineptitude to deliver the expected promises of the ‘Change Agenda.’ “
    In his submission, Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment and Vice Chairman of Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC), Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah, said government was already receiving testimonies on the effectiveness of the reforms.

    Also yesterday, the acting president threw more light on the N100 billion housing fund initiated by the government under its Social Investment Programme (SIP), saying the total cost of some of the houses to be purchased by low income earners on monthly mortgage of N30,000, will be N2.5 million.

    A statement by the acting president’s spokesman, Mr. Laolu Akande, said the scheme had already taken off in 11 states of the federation. However, he did not mention the names of such states.
    “The N100 billion is a yearly contribution to our N1 trillion Social Housing Fund, the largest in the history of the country. Both the World Bank and African Development Bank (AfDB) are contributors to the fund from which developers will borrow 80 per cent of the cost of the project and counter fund with their own 20 per cent.”

    In a related development, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, yesterday lamented that the country’s ease of doing business profile was among the worst in the world and called for measures to quickly reverse the trend.
    He also said the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) Act had not in any way helped to promote friendly business environment to boost the economy.

    Dogara was speaking at the opening of a one-day public hearing on a bill for an Act to repeal the ICRC Establishment Act, 2005 and enact the Public Private Partnership Regulatory Commission to strengthen and enhance the supervisory role of the commission to assist public and private sectors in enhancing of construction, development, designing, operation or maintenance of infrastructure or development projects of the federal government through public private partnership arrangements and for other matters related there to.

    Represented by the Deputy Chief Whip of the House, Hon. Pally Iriase, the Speaker said the National Assembly would do all within its constitutional powers to boost the country’s ease of doing business particularly as the economic begins to show signs of possible exit from recession.

    His submission came on a day the Director General, Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), Mr. Aminu Diko, said a lot of ministries, departments and agencies of government (MDAs) currently lacked the requisite capacity to structure and develop bankable public – private partnership (PPP) projects that could attract private sector funds into the country.

    He further submitted that while PPPs have been used across the world over the years, they are complex in terms of structuring and execution.
    He clarified that while ICRC provide regulatory oversight and does not own the projects, the MDAs are statutorily responsible for providing services as well as developing bankable PPP projects.

    The ICRC DG spoke in his submissions at a one-day public hearing on a bill for an Act to repeal the ICRC Establishment Act, 2005 and enact the Public Private Partnership Regulatory Commission to strengthen and enhance the supervisory role of the commission to assist public and private sectors in enhancing of construction, development, designing, operation or maintenance of infrastructure or development projects of the federal government through public private partnership arrangements and for other matters related there to.