The Presidency has approved a national action plan to deliver sweeping changes in Nigeria’s business environment over the next two months.
The approval came on Tuesday at the sixth meeting of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) presided over by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo at the State House.
A statement issued by the council after the meeting said that the plan would deliver tangible changes for SMEs in the country and also improve its ranking in the World Bank Doing Business Index 2018.
The statement said that the reforms will be implemented across three priority areas – Entry and Exit of goods; Entry and Exit of people and Government Transparency and Procurement. It added that the implementation would be carried out by the Enabling Business Environment Secretariat (EBES), under the leadership of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Jumoke Oduwole.
It explained further that “one of the reforms to be implemented to ease the process of starting a business is the upgrade of the CAC online portal to ensure document upload capabilities that will make it possible for new businesses to be registered online from start to finish without having to visit the CAC office”
“Also, work is ongoing to streamline the number of agencies operating at the nation’s ports to just six. Council also listened to updates on the proposed Single Window Initiative at the ports which is expected to become operational by Q4 2017”, the statement added.
The Council was also briefed on the forthcoming EBES Stakeholders Engagement Forum scheduled for Kano and Lagos on February 23rd and 24th respectively. The forums are part of steps being taken to receive feedback and ensure widespread adoption of the PEBEC reforms.
On entry and exit of people, PEBEC observed that the Visa on Arrival and 48-hour Visa processing procedures of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) are already operational with various levels of compliance.
PEBEC is also collaborating with state governments like Lagos and Kano to make processes for obtaining construction permits and registering properties faster, cheaper and easier.
In addition, PEBEC will work with the national assembly to pass important bills like the National Collateral Registry Bill and the Credit Bureau Services Bill which would ease access to credit for SMEs. To show their commitment to PEBEC’s reform agenda, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki; and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara attended Tuesday’s meeting.
The Council observed that the websites of several MDAs are now upgraded and have their process and documentation requirements clearly spelt out. It also observed that work to improve the ambience of the Abuja International Airport by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has reached an advanced stage with the repairs of elevators, carousels, cooling systems, among others. Similar work has begun at the Lagos International Airport.
Four ministers – Industry, Trade and Investment; Justice; Power, Works and Housing and Information and Culture – attended the meeting. Also present were the Comptroller General of Immigration, the Comptroller General of Customs, the MD of the Nigeria Ports Authority, amongst others.
PEBEC was established in July 2016 by President Muhammadu Buhari to remove critical bottlenecks and bureaucratic constraints to doing business in Nigeria. Vice President Osinbajo is the chairman of the council while the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah, is the the vice chairman. Nine other ministers, the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria and representatives of the National Assembly and private sector are members of the Council.