James Emejo in Abuja
Stakeholders have continued to react to the country’s recent improvement in the World Bank’s ease of doing business report.
The report had indicated that Nigeria moved up by 15 places from the 146th position to 131st position.
It further indicated that the country implemented reforms which impacted six indicators, including making the enforcement of contracts easier, which placed the 200-million-person economy among the world’s top improvers.
Owing to this development, the acting Registrar-General, Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), Lady Azuka Azinge, expressed satisfaction with the progress.
She attributed the feat to the faithful implementation of the ease of doing business reform initiatives by the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC), under the able leadership of Vice President, Yemi Osibanjo and supported by Ministers of Industry, Trade & Investment, Finance, Interior and other stakeholders.
In a statement, Head, Public Affairs, CAC, Mr. Moses Adaguusu, Azinge said the commission was proud to be part of historic achievement and congratulate other sister agencies which had collaborated to ensure success.
Also Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr Richard Adebayo, said the ranking affirmed the PEBEC’s commitment to remove the bureaucratic constraints to doing business in the country.
He also revealed that the PEBEC had been working towards fulfilling projections of the Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP 2017-2020) to take 100 million Nigerians out of poverty.
In a statement by his Special Assistant (Media), Mr. Julius Toba-Jegede, the Minister said:”The steady improvement in Nigeria’s ease of doing business score and rank is a testament to the reforms implemented by this administration over the past four years in line with the reforms agenda being implemented at the national and subnational levels across the country since the establishment of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) by President Mohammadu Buhari in July, 2016.
“The PEBEC works towards the fulfilment of the projections of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP 2017-2020), which is striving to deliver sustainable economic growth in Nigeria by restoring growth, investing in our people, and building a competitive economy as we work towards delivering Mr President’s mandate of bringing 100 million people out of poverty.”
Meanwhile, despite the improvement in the ease of doing business ranking, analysts believed the country could surpass the current levels if the government is able to address concerns over corruption and insecurity as well as issues around property rights.
They also harped on the need to reduce bureaucracy in the conclusion of business transactions, especially tax clearance as well as improve transparency in the entire contractual system.
However, the report had indicated that Nigeria implemented reforms which impacted six indicators, including making the enforcement of contracts easier, which placed the 200-million-person economy among the world’s top improvers.
However, in an interview with THISDAY, erstwhile Director General, Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), Dr. Chijioke Ekechukwu, said the impact of the 15 place-movement may not be economically felt which explains why the improvement “does not represent the reality today on ground.”
He said for the ranking to be meaningful, issues of corruption, electricity and roads must be drastically resolved, including improvement in property right.
He added: “There must be ease of acquisition and ease assignment of titles of property within the shortest possible time, investors must see our country as secure enough to do business devoid of kidnapping and banditry. These and many more will further improve our position.”
Also reacting to the latest business ranking, Lead Director, Center for Social Justice, Dr. Eze Onyepere, said though the assessment could have reflected the reality on the ground, the country still needed to do more to improve on current level.
He said there is a need to focus on reduction of bureaucracy in the conclusion of business transactions, reducing corruption and improve transparency and accountability in governance and society in general.
He said improvements were required in areas of processes and procedures of obtaining permits and licenses as well as public availability of information on contract awards with the exception of those with security implications.
Onyepere said: “If we get that, we are likely going to measure well in the ease of doing business ranking. If you improve transparency and accountability, every major contract signed by government which is not related to national security should be in the public domain.”