The World Bank Group (World Bank) on Wednesday, 31 October 2018, published it’s 2019 Doing Business Report (the Report). This latest report sees Nigeria ranking 146 out of 190 countries on the ease of doing business index, a drop by one place from 2018 ranking of 145.
Based on the Report, Nigeria improved in five indicators, with the greatest overall positive movement being on ease of paying taxes. Nigeria moved from 171 to 157, indicating that it is now easier to pay taxes in Nigeria than in at least 33 other countries/territories in the world. The improved ranking in paying taxes may be attributable to the tax authorities’ efforts at simplifying the process of filing tax returns, and paying taxes by leveraging technology.
The ease of starting a business improved by 10 positions, with Nigeria now ranked 120th globally and 22nd in Sub-Saharan Africa, an improvement on its 35th position in the 2018 Doing Business Report. According to the 2019 Report, this leap is attributable to the introduction of simplified preregistration and registration procedures, as well as the introduction of an online platform to pay stamp duties.
Nigeria also recorded positive movements in ease of getting electricity, ease of trading across borders and ease of enforcing contracts. This indicates that some of the reforms being introduced by the Federal Government of Nigeria are beginning to have positive effects.
While the above positive movements are encouraging, it should be noted that Nigeria recorded downward movements in some areas, such as dealing with construction permits, registering property, getting credit, protecting minority investors and resolving insolvency.
The fact that the overall doing business ranking for Nigeria is better than the ease of paying taxes is a pointer to the effort still required to further simplify the tax system, in line with Nigeria’s National Tax Policy. Nigeria’s position as the 22nd country (21st in 2018) out of 48 Sub-Saharan African countries covered in the Report should continue to create the hunger and passion at making fundamental improvements to the country’s tax system.
While it is certain that Nigeria’s economy stands to benefit from an improved ranking on the ease of doing business index, all hands must be on deck to ensure that the initiatives that brought about positive movements in some of the indices are sustained, and efforts must be intensified towards ensuring that the unfavourable indices recorded are improved upon.
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