Report: 76% of SMEs Use Intermediaries in Interfacing with SON

Oluchi Chibuzor

A perception survey conducted by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce & Industry (LCCI) and the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) has shown that about 76 per cent of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the country use intermediaries in interfacing with Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON).

This was as they cited SON’s complex operational processes as time consuming, hence they prefer consultants and in most cases pay additional fees, prompting experts to worry it could lead to compromise in quality of products.

The research titled, ‘Efficiency and Impact of Regulatory Activities of Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) On SMEs’ was presented to the public recently.

According to the report, “76 percent of them use intermediaries because they think the SON operational processes are complex and time consuming. Hence, they prefer the consultants to take that burden away from them.

“Over 40 per cent of the SMEs reported that they had to pay additional monies to resolve their challenges, 45 per cent of the SMEs had to engage the services of a third party while 35 percent of the SMEs reported resolving their challenges via a superior officer or authority.”

It however recommended that SON should develop swift and prompt response services that swiftly address demands of SMEs.

“This might be accomplished by implementing a successful digital response management system to give SMEs better and faster customer assistance.”

Meanwhile, speaking at the event to launch the report in Lagos, the President, LCCI, Dr. Michael Olawale-cole said the chamber’s ‘Strengthening Private Sector Participation and Capacity to Effectively Support Post-COVID Economic Recovery in Nigeria’ project seeks to support reform efforts within SON.

He said they would continue to advocate for the ease of doing business and the transformation of Nigeria’s institutions towards making them effective and supportive to private businesses, especially SMEs and generally to be globally competitive.

He acknowledged the commitment and cooperation of SON officials in driving through this process for a win-win situation for business and government.

According to him, “One thing is clear, with the growing complexity and diversity of business regulations and socio-economic challenges, business problems are now government problems – and vice versa.

“Therefore, strategic partnerships under Public-Private Dialogues (PPDs) and other stakeholders’ forums are pivotal in stimulating required policy reforms for improved business climate.

“For this cause, a study was initiated and executed to advocate for regulatory improvements that will facilitate the post COVID-19 economic recovery through institutional reforms to minimise corruption and strengthen efficiency in the regulatory environment of the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON).”

However, for him and other key stakeholders present, the report further showed that SMEs lacked adequate knowledge of the guidelines, processes, utilisation of technology and resources provided by SON.

“These gaps can lead to inducement of officials and in most cases prompt compromise in quality,” they experts noted at the event,” experts stressed at the event.

Continuing, Olawale-cole added that, “Consequently, unscrupulous officials take advantage of the ignorance of the private sector operators to demand for unreceipted/unofficial payment thereby casting aspersion on the entire agency. In the conduct of the research.

“We engaged with our sister chambers of commerce, Aba Chamber of Commerce, Industry Mines and Agriculture, and Kano Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture. The findings are therefore not restricted to Lagos but many parts of the country.”

The Minister of Industry Trade and Investment, Niyi Adebayo, who was represented by the Deputy Director, Trade Promotion, Mr. Rilwanu Tukur, said a programme of this nature was apt and commendable which is in partnership with LCCI and other stakeholders of the engine growth of the economy.

On her side, the Country Director, CIPE, Mrs. Lola Adekanye, stressed that government agencies must see themselves as partners with the private sector.

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