Nairametrics| Nigeria ranked 170 out of 189 countries according to the World Bank Ease of Doing Business Report 2016. In this regard, the FG hopes that through the action plan policy it is able to move Nigeria 20 steps upwards in the World Bank Ease of Doing Business Index. This was the worst possible indicator for an economy trying to increase exports and attract Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) as a way out of the recession.
In February, the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) announced a 60-day national action plan with the aim of aiding business in the country; one of the key goals of the Buhari administration’s broader Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).
The goal of the national action plan is to remove critical bottlenecks and bureaucratic constraints to doing business in Nigeria. The policy is inter-ministerial, and various FG ministries have adopted the initiative. The EBES has prioritized 7 reform areas in line with the target to improve in the World Bank Doing Business Rankings for 2018: Starting a business, getting credit, trading across borders, getting electricity, dealing with construction permits, paying taxes, registering property.
A recent 30 day (midway) update on the progress of the national plan highlighted the gains the government had made, and the areas yet to be completed:
In terms of starting a business:
- Company name search is now functional on the CAC website www.cac.gov.ng
- Documents can now be uploaded, enabling e-submission of registration documents
- FIRS e-payment solution is now integrated into CAC portal to enable e-stamping
- Only one registration form now needed to save time and reduce cost
- CAC company registration no longer requires lawyers
The EBES is also awaiting feedback in its bid to achieve, in collaboration with CAC, a 24-hour turn around time for business registration, right from when documentation is submitted.
In terms of registering property
- Sworn affidavit is no longer required to conduct title search at the Lagos Land Registry
- A complaint mechanism has now been made available online
- The EBES is awaiting feedback on the simplification of the process of registering property
In terms of facilitating trade across borders
- The EBES has mandated the use of pallets for imports to ensure quicker physical examinations
- It has also mandated that vessels importing goods into Nigeria should send cargo manifests in advance to ensure improved risk assessment and that cargoes are optimised placed
- Nigerian Customs Service is also required to coordinate joint physical examination of cargo with the Nigeria Immigration Service to ensure only one point of contact between importer and officials
In terms of the entry and exit of people
- The Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) has launched an online Visa on Arrival system. Visitors, especially business executives can apply for a visa online and collect it on arrival 48 hours later
- Arrival and departure forms have been consolidated and now in use at airports
In terms of ease of getting credit:
- The national collateral registry (www.ncr.gov.ng) is now available for the use of lenders to determine if any prior security interests exist for a collateral being pledged by a borrower. The lender can also register its own security interest in the said collateral. This is meant to provide more information on borrower’s collateral to forestall a that collateral being pledged multiple times or to multiple lenders. The provision of this kind of collateral information helps to reduce the risk associated with borrowers, and will make lenders more confident in granting loans. Movable and personal assets cab be pledged as collateral.
- There has also been increased sensitization on the usage of credit bureaus, which provide credit history of borrowers and shares it among lenders. This helps credit decision making
In the area of dealing with construction permits, the following has been achieved:
- Fees and procedures are now published online: all fees, procedures and laws are published on the Lagos state Physical Planning and Permit Authority (LASPPPA) website (www.lagosepp.com)
- Qualification laws (qualifications for architects and engineers who supervise construction) are now published online:
- Lagos state government now only requires an Environment Impact Assessment for construction works with potentially heavy impact on the environment and Soil Investigation Report for 4-storeys and buildings in swampy areas.
The Foreign Affairs Minister Geoffrey Onyeama via the Economic Diplomacy policy thrust initiated a matchmaking database Platform in Nigeria’s 119 Foreign Missions for international businesses to have a smooth investments entrance into the Nigerian economy.
The missions will serve as a one-stop-shop through which investors can find information on Nigerian products, a platform for Nigerians to exhibit their products to the international market, and a platform to enable foreign investors access to information on the Nigerian economy. It will serve basically as export promotion conduit for the growth of the Nigerian economy. This is an excellent policy to complement the 60-day National Action Plan and other government policies aimed at improving exports and FDI.