Nigeria : Leveraging NAP 7.0 for ease of doing business
- 28 April 2022 / News / 124 / Fares RAHAHLIA
Despite the available resources in the country, Nigeria is often described as one that reflects extreme inequality and significant economic disparities between the North and the South, poor infrastructure, a complex and opaque regulatory environment, corruption and a fast-growing population.
These challenges have taken a toll on the ease of doing business, making the country less desirable to many investors, both locally and internationally.
In pursuance of this administration’s goal to improve Nigeria’s ease of doing business ratings, President Muhammadu Buhari inaugurated the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC), chaired by the Vice President, in July 2016.
The PEBEC comprises the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment (MITI) as Vice-Chair, nine other ministers, the Head of Service of the Federation, Governor of the Central Bank, representatives of the National Assembly, and the private sector. PEBEC’s mandate is to make recommendations on institutional reforms to promote Nigeria’s investment attractiveness.
To further boost the drive for systemic business climate reforms in line with the Federal Government’s commitment to improving the business environment, the National Action Plan was introduced for the first time in February 2017 and has since become an annual 60-day accelerator and reform tool designed to coordinate the effective delivery of priority reforms of select ministries, departments and agencies.
The 7th National Action Plan (NAP 7.0) was specially designed to break away from the lacklustre performance of the last two outings, NAP 5.0 and NAP 6.0, held in Q1 of 2020 and 2021, which saw the relevant ministries, departments and agencies perform below par at 44% and 43% respectively for a variety of reasons.
It, however, focuses on five major areas: ports/trade facilitation reforms, automation reforms, regulatory reforms and Executive Order 01/ReportGov.NG compliance reforms.
The 60-day National Action Plan driven by the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) is part of the priority reforms to be implemented by select ministries, departments, and agencies (MDAs), to drive ease of doing business in Nigeria.
Categorically, the reforms in these areas will target the frontline experience of business as regards agro-exports. Additionally, it seeks to improve the travel experience at Nigeria’s airports and strengthen the automation of the business incorporation process of the Corporate Affairs Commission.
This year, NAP is expected to drive the adoption of electronic filing of taxes by taxpayers. Additionally, MSMEs will have an improved complaint resolution on the ReportGov.ng platform and an expansion of the MDAs listed.
The Midway report of March 8th, 2022, on the reforms in the Non-Agro Export showed that there has been a 39 per cent completion in business registration, 49 per cent for trademarks registry, TMR; 61 per cent for resolving insolvency; and 33 per cent getting electricity.
Others are 29 per cent in taxes, 0 per cent in business permit and expatriate quota, 31 per cent in airport reforms, and 25 per cent in Executive Order 001 and ReportGov.ng.
Overall, the number of reforms was 28; the number of outstanding reforms is 28; and 30 per cent of completed.
Similarly, with regards to the progress report on the reforms in the Agro-Export showed that there has been a 32 per cent completion in the payment and verification process, 19 per cent for the inspection process, and that of the terminal operators and shipping lines is 19 per cent; and 17 per cent for access and documentation process.
In total, there were 30 per cent reforms made, 30 per cent of outstanding reforms and 22 per cent of completed reforms.
In his remarks during the 5th year Anniversary of the PEBEC, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo explained that the mandate of PEBEC was simply to find ways of changing the growing reputation of Nigeria as a challenging business environment.
According to him, it seemed quite simple to remove the bottlenecks and obstacles and to seek to change the orientation of regulatory authorities and public servants who interface with businesses seeking government licenses, approvals and other regulatory requirements.
Presenting the Midway report, PEBEC Secretary, Dr. Jumoke Oduwole said the Port/trade facilitation reforms part of the Federal Government measures have to eliminate multiple cargo examinations, encourage priority and free movement of designated export containers to boost the volume of export.
Dr. Oduwole also disclosed that efforts are ongoing to end multiple checks of passengers at the airport to attract foreign investors into the country.
According to her, the session was pivotal for the trajectory of the 7th iteration of the 60 days accelerator NAP 7.0, and updates on the progress of the non-agro and agro-export plan.
Dr. Oduwole, who is also the Special Adviser to the President on Ease of Doing Business, said implementation of the Designated Export Warehouse (DEW) project would fast track the process.
She said this was necessary to enhance the drastic reduction in the current time for export cargo examination as well as congestion at the terminals and create space for new containers.
“A reform in the payment and verification process will boost forex inflow from exports if exporters have unfettered access to the foreign exchange proceeds earned by them.
“It is also pertinent to extend privileges given to Diaspora remittance to have free access to their foreign exchange. The essence of NAP 7.0 is also to ensure an increased volume of exports and volume of foreign exchange in the country.”
Given the absence of an enabling environment for large scale industrialization, especially with the lingering concerns about port operations and access to foreign exchange for raw materials, leveraging the NAP 7.0 by improving the capacity of Small and Medium Enterprises remains important for employment generation for Nigeria’s rising number of unemployed.
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