Economic Council Backs Second Ease of Doing Business Report

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Deji Elumoye

The National Economic Council (NEC) has expressed its support for the second iteration of the Subnational Ease of Doing Business Report which is to be launched in the second quarter of 2022, to consolidate the gains of the previous subnational surveys on Nigeria’s business climate.

This is just as the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Clement Agba, said the nation’s excess crude account (ECA) balance as at January 17, 2022, stood at $35 million.

These formed part of discussions during the 122nd physical meeting of the Council, chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, which also had in attendance State Governors, the FCT Minister, Mallam Mohammed Bello; the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha, and the Central Bank Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, among others.

The Special Adviser to the President on Ease of Doing Business, Dr. Jumoke Oduwole, who made a presentation to Council on the Subnational Doing Business Project and State Action on Business Enabling Reform (SABER) Programme noted that the second iteration of the Subnational Ease of Doing Business Report will deepen the scope of the reforms based on what private sector is saying about the business climate in Nigeria.

According to Oduwole, the initial criteria (framework) focused on security and infrastructure, transparency and access to information, the regulatory environment, and skills and workforce readiness.

She explained that the second edition will include economic opportunity, and level of digitization, just to deepen the scope based on private-sector ideas regarding improving the business climate in Nigeria.

In his presentation, Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Agba while giving an update on the nation’s excess crude account (ECA) balance said as at January 17, 2022, it stood at $35,868,086.40

For stabilisation account, the minister disclosed that it stands at N30, 685, 611, 413.79 as at January 17, while development of natural resources account balance stood N42, 820,382,381.40

NEC also received an update presentation on the State Performance Report on Disease Outbreaks in Nigeria by the Director-General of the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr Ifedayo Adetifa.

The Council was informed that as of 19th January 2022, a total of 251,341 cases were tested while 23,939 active cases were recorded and 224,939 discharged.

There was also an update report on the outbreak of Lassa Fever with reported increasing number of cases from Bauchi, Oyo, with recorded fatalities in Nasarawa(2) and Benue(1) States in the last 7 weeks.

States were urged to improve enforcement of proper environmental sanitation; activation of Lassa Fever testing laboratories; sustain funding for Lassa Fever response; provision of local sample transportation framework, and equip treatment centres to manage complicated cases.

The Council was further called to note that a demographic dividend can deliver massive economic growth, poverty reduction and human development, hence the need to invest in adolescent girls.

The Chairman, National Population Commission (NPC), Hon. Nasir Kwarra, who made this known in his presentation said meeting adolescent girls’ sexual and reproductive health and educational needs can fast-track Nigeria’s journey from being a pre-dividend to early dividend country.

According to him, addressing adolescent needs and empowering them can quicken the opening of the window of opportunity required to harness a demographic dividend.

He specifically appealed to State Governors to keep adolescent girls in school through, “Adopting and implementinv free and compulsory education for girls: at least a completion of Senior Secondary Education in all the 36 states and the FCT. E.g, Conditional Cash transfers to ensure girls stay in school. Ensure availability of appropriate amenities and security in all schools across the country. E.g., Lavatories, security fence.

“Empowerment: Increased investment in empowering women and girls in and out of school; working with the community and religious leaders in addressing social norms. Expand access to essential primary healthcare services: including reproductive and family planning services. Addressing early/child marriage: through legislation and advocacy.”

In the end, the Governors expressed their passion about the Girl-child/Adolescent investment, as World Bank pledged commitment to support in order to help Nigeria benefit from her demographic dividend.