Presidency Proposes Omnibus Business Reform Bill

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By Adedayo Akinwale

The Special Adviser to the President on Ease of Doing Business, Dr. Jumoke Oduwole, has said that the presidency has concluded plans to evolve a new law that will embody all existing reforms in a single legislation.

Oduwole in a statement issued yesterday said the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, will in the coming weeks, initiate this new bill for the National Assembly.

She said the whole essence of having an Omnibus bill on business facilitation is to institutionalise all the reforms for easier implementation and consequently guarantee sustenance of the efforts.

Oduwole noted that after implementing several policies that helped in deepening reforms at both the national and sub-national levels, Nigeria’s rating on the global scale of ease of doing business improved in 2018 and 2019.

She said the successes were driven by the implementation of over 140 reforms by the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) between 2016 and 2019.

Oduwole revealed that the Enabling Business Environment Secretariat (EBES), an arm of the presidency driving the reforms, had in 2017, “sought and got the approval of PEBEC to adopt an Omnibus Bill as a legislative reform tool for business climate reform in Nigeria”.

She stated: “Over the next few months the EBES team engaged with stakeholders across the legal and business community for their input, including the Nigerian Bar Association – Section on Business Law (NBA SBL) the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) and the National Assembly Business Environment Roundtable (NASSBER) as well as other organized private sector stakeholders and members of the public at large.

“In Q4 2017, over 40 law firms from across the country supported an SBL Steering Committee pro bono to review and categorise the submissions received, which were then distilled into a document that formed the basis of the work of the drafting team from the Ministry of Justice that resulted in the earlier version of the draft bill prepared in 2018.”

“The bill among other things amends some provisions of the present legislative framework that have been identified by stakeholders as bottlenecks for the business climate reforms; and Introduce new provisions that would accentuate business climate reforms (For instance, components of the Executive orders like One Government principle, Default Approval etc.

Oduwole pointed out that the Bill is now being reopened for review and further input because a number of the provisions earlier included in the draft have been addressed by the Financial Act 2019 and Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) 2020.”

She explained that just like a standard Bill, Omnibus Bills are formal proposals to change laws that are voted on by lawmakers and transmitted to the executive arm for final approval.

Oduwole satressed that the difference with Omnibus Bills is that they contain numerous smaller Bills, ostensibly on the same broad topic.

For instance, she said, an Omnibus Tax Bill may include changes on everything from income, corporate, and sales taxes, but all of those issues can fit under the large umbrella of taxes.