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Federal Government intensifies efforts to improve business climate in Nigeria

By Helen Oji
09 March 2017   |   4:03 am
The Federal Government has announced that it is currently implementing measures and accelerating actions, geared towards delivering on policies that would facilitate the ‘Ease of Doing Business’ in Nigeria.

Nigeria’s minister of industry, trade and investment, Okechukwu Enelamah

Seeks private sector partnership to deliver on targets

The Federal Government has announced that it is currently implementing measures and accelerating actions, geared towards delivering on policies that would facilitate the ‘Ease of Doing Business’ in Nigeria.

The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr Okechukwu Enelamah, who stated this at the 2017 KPMG’s CFO Survey Report Presentation, held in Lagos on Tuesday, noted that ‘Ease of Doing Business’ has become a critical benchmark for assessing the competitiveness of global economies.

The ease of doing business index is an index created by the World Bank Group, in which higher rankings or a low numerical value indicate better, usually simpler, regulations for businesses and stronger protections of property rights.

The reverse is the case with lower ranking, in which Nigeria was ranked 169th position out of 190 countries in the 2017 index. The development gave many a cause for concern, especially as the country is struggling to exit current recession, which can be jeopardised with the current ranking by scaring prospective investors.

Indeed, Enelamah maintained that consistent efforts to create conducive environment for domestic and foreign trade would fast track nation’s industrialisation and boost investors’ confidence in Nigeria.

Besides, the minister disclosed that government had concluded plans to reconstitute a board that would review the corporate governance code, which was suspended in January.

He also said the government has put in place various initiatives to facilitate the ease of doing business in Nigeria, which implementation plan is being tracked over the next 60 days to improve business operations in Nigeria.

He explained that government is working closely with the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to develop vibrant a communications strategy through clear-cut established channels.

These channels, according to him, would ultimately improve communication linkages at the relevant government agencies, and create closer interaction mechanisms between government and various stakeholders.

He added that implementation of a communications strategy would also ensure that the ministry spearheads a relentless awareness campaign in order to bridge the knowledge gap between the ministry and its stakeholders.

He stressed the need for improved government and private sector partnership, to enable them provide appropriate framework to meet the desired developmental target.

He said: “We can do the right thing and it will work for us. We can create enabling environment. Singapore is draconian in enforcing laws but it impacts on ease of doing business. You need to keep raising voices.

“We are working to develop many channels of communications and ways for you to reach us like call centres, online places, and websites of MDAs. MDAs should have websites that are working. We will also make use of electronic platforms to boost communication.

“If you apply the right success formula and do the right things long enough, you will get the right result and you will engender confidence on the foreigners out there. Government wants to partner with business community,” he added.

The Partner and Head, Audit Services, KPMG in Nigeria, Tola Adeyemi, said the CFO report is a validation of what the CFO’s believe government priority should be for 2017.

According to him, CFOs identified weak infrastructure, foreign exchange (FOREX) volatility and unfriendly business environment as the major factors impeding the nation’s economic growth, and urged government to adopt sustainable measures that would help tackle the problems in medium to long term basis.

He said CFOs admitted that 2017 economic environment would be a difficult year due to various macro economic concerns facing business operators, but noted that businesses would show some reasonable level of rebound in the next two to three years.

“We conducted the survey towards the end of 2015, and all the responses were deep based on conditions that existed at that time. We ask them how confident they are in terms of prospects for growth in 2017 compared to 2016. It was clear from the responses that CFOs were less confident about the prospects of economic growth in 2017 for business, organisation and general economy than they were in 2016.

“But when asked beyond 2017, looking at two three years down the line, the responses were different, we noticed there were much optimism about prospects for their business and economy within the next two to three years,” he added.