By Emma Okonji
Despite moving 24 places up the ladder to attain 145th position out of 190 in the World Bank ranking of ‘Ease of Doing Business’ index for 2018, Nigerians are of the view that Nigeria is yet to get it right at the grassroots level, in general matters pertaining to the actual ease of doing business in the country.
This was the collective view of industry stakeholders who gathered in Lagos at the weekend, at the instance of the Nigerian-British Chamber of Commerce (NBCC).
Reacting to their views, the Minister of Trade and Investment, Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah said the only way Nigerians could feel the impact of the federal government’s effort in driving Ease of Doing Business in the country, would be when all the ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) of government, fully adopt and implements technology in their daily operations. According to him, Nigeria needs technology adoption and implementation that would facilitate the automated processes that would further drive the ease of doing business in Nigeria. Analysing the recent World Bank rating, Enelamah said this was the first time ever that Nigeria has moved up the ladder as against previous ratings where Nigeria had always moved some steps backward. He however attributed the upward movement to the efforts and commitment of government in ensuring Ease of Doing Business in Nigeria, further adding that Nigeria is not where it is supposed to be in the ranking, but that the country has made significant progress in the last two years of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
Stakeholders at the gathering identified key areas that are hindering the quick processes concerning the ease of doing business to include delay in trademark registration, delay in government approval processes, multiple taxes, poor electricity supply, among others. They said Nigerians and Nigerian business have suffered a great deal of pains and setbacks, and called on government to decentralise the registration centre for the trademark, which is currently located in Abuja.
They also called on government to control the rate at which its agencies duplicate tax collections, and as well address the issue of poor electricity supply, which they said, were killing genuine businesses in the country.
The minister said government was already addressing the issues raised, but insisted that the adoption and implementation of the right technologies, would make the whole process a lot easier. While revealing the planned reforms of the federal government for 2018 that will help to facilitate the ease of doing business in the country, the minister said government is coming with some laudable initiatives, which include scaling its web-based feedback mechanism; cascading the ease of doing business initiative down to the sub-national level; the planned ranking of states around the ease of doing business; as well as the planned introduction of the Omnibus Bill that will capture the actual and legal way of doing business in the country, among other initiatives of government. The minister called on the private sector to collaborate with government to achieve the initiatives.
The Deputy British High Commissioner, Mrs. Laure Beaufils, who was present at the gathering, reiterated the British government’s commitment to work with the Federal Government of Nigeria in boosting the ease of doing business in the country, as well as in fighting corruption.
The President and Chairman of Council, Nigerian-British Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Akin Olawore, said: “There is so much that the government is doing to engage the private sector in the ease of doing business and we need to take advantage of it and work towards getting more foreign investments into the country. We will follow up on the decisions reached at the forum, and make sure government implements them.”