The new action plan, which will run from 3rd October to 1st December 2017, is expected to further reduce the challenges faced by SMEs when getting credit, paying taxes, or moving goods across the country, amongst others, by removing critical bottlenecks and bureaucratic constraints to doing business in Nigeria.
It will be recalled that PEBEC, which is chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, had, on 26thSeptember, 2017, approved a second 60-day National Action Plan (NAP 2.0) to drive reforms aimed at making Nigeria a progressively easier place to do business.
The NAP 2.0 marks the beginning of another reform cycle 2017/2018 which aims to deepen the ease of doing business reforms implemented across the various Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) in the last 12 months and will in turn increase productivity through industrialization, enhanced exports and foreign exchange earnings, while creating jobs and reducing poverty.
A previous 60-day National Action Plan on Ease of Doing Business was approved on February 21, 2017. The National Action Plan contained initiatives and actions implemented by responsible Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), the National Assembly, the Governments of Lagos and Kano states, as well as some private sector stakeholders.
Some of the reforms to be implemented to ease the process of starting a business include eliminating the manual registration process at Corporate Affairs Commission in 10 additional states, increase access to credit for SMEs by registering at least 300 micro-finance banks on the collateral registry, and enforce the elimination of illegal roadblocks on major trading routes across the country.
MDAs have been charged by the Council to treat the Ease of Doing Business initiatives with a sense of urgency and deliver impactful results by implementing the Executive Order 001 on transparency and efficiency. The Executive Order E01, which was signed Prof. Osinbajo on 18th May, 2017, ensures that citizens have complete clarity on all government requirements and processes, better cooperation and improved information sharing among MDAs, as well as requiring proper communication of approval or rejection of applications to Nigerians within the stipulated timeframe.
The reforms will also improve the country’s ranking in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index 2019. Recently, Nigeria rose two ranks up from its previous 127th to 125th position in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index (GCI) for 2017-2018. The country moved up marginally by one step from 170 to 169 in the 2017 World Bank Doing Business Report.
PEBEC, which was inaugurated in July 2016 by President Muhammadu Buhari, to remove critical bottlenecks and bureaucratic constraints to doing business in Nigeria, comprises 10 Honourable Ministers, with the Honourable Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Okey Enelamah, as Vice Chair, along with the Head of Service, the Central Bank Governor, representatives of the National Assembly, Lagos and Kano state governments, and the private sector.
The Ease of Doing Business reforms will be implemented over the next 60 days by the Enabling Business Environment Secretariat (EBES), which became fully operational in October 2016. It would be recalled that the EBES implemented PEBEC’s inaugural National Action Plan (NAP 60) from February to April 2017. The EBES is coordinated by Dr. Jumoke Oduwole, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Industry, Trade and Investment (OVP).