FG mulls legal backing to sustain ease of doing business reforms


Federal Government is considering providing legal teeth to reforms it is currently carrying out under the Ease of Doing Business, by the Presidential Enabling Business Council.
Such legal backing would further strengthen sustain investors confidence in Nigeria’s economy,while also growing the economy for wealth creation.
The Presidential Enabling Business Council (PEBEC), which was commissioned  by President Muhammadu Buhari and coordinated by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo is overseeing all kinds of reforms in the economy, which has since positioned Nigeria among 10 most reforming economies globally.
Nigeria’s economy, considered as Africa’s largest has been bedeviled by all manner of constraints on ease of doing business, but has commenced series of reforms in various ‘life span’ of business cycle to ensure investor’s confidence is sustained and more investors even attracted.
But Okechukwu Enelemah, Nigeria’s Minister of Industry Trade and Investment confirmed exclusively to BusinessDay that the federal government is considering the laws that would see some of the reforms being done by the federal government have strong legal backing, while also sustaining investors confidence on Nigeria’s economy.
“The federal Government is looking at enabling business environment as a whole and we are considering passing an ‘omnibus bill’ that will deal with all the issues that businesses face”.
Enelemah said, “This would be a way of showing that this government,National Assembly and executive collectively pass a landmark law to make it easier to do business in Nigeria, and we want it to be a legacy of this administration”
The Minister also informed that the collaboration between the National Assembly, the Judiciary and the Executive have been rewarding, as witnessed in Nigeria’s ease of doing business ranking.
“When it comes to making it easier to do business in Nigeria with a collective responsibility,the National Assembly and the Judiciary have been supportive. Oftentimes, the headlines is about delay in the passage of the budget,but I can tell you they have been supportive”.
On Passage of enabling laws that facilitates ease of doing business in the country,he said,”The National Assembly for instance committed to passing those bills and signing those laws. Such laws like the Collateral registry act and there is a movable collateral act and there is another one that deals with credit like registry.”
“Both of them had been signed last year,and that also helped in the progress made with the World Bank in the latest ranking wherein Nigeria appreciated 24 Places,and adjourned 10 most reforming country” Enelemah said.
Speaking further on the benefits of these laws from businesses, he said,”One can ask, how do business benefit. They are all directly tied to access to credit, so the whole idea is that small businesses as you know may not own land or buildings in a choice place that the banks will like, but that  means that ‎even the assets that are purchased can be used as a collateral.”
It would be noted that Nigeria is already reaping the benefits of various reforms embarked upon with regard to ease of doing business.
For instance,Nigeria’s capital importation for the first quarter in 2018,translated to $6.3 billion. The investment inflow in the first quarter of 2018 is more than all the flows that came into 2016,as industry watchers are already expressing optimism that Nigeria has better years ahead to attract more investments.
Apart from capital investment inflows into the country, Nigeria appreciated 24 Places in the recent ranking on the World Bank ease of doing business,as most industry watchers insist Nigeria must sustain the reforms to ensure investor’s confidence is sustained.
Enelemah while speaking on the reforms of the PEBEC said,”The good news is that all that is on going and the Presidential Council or PEBEC as you call it has been very active and as you know the results have started showing .Last year,we were adjourned one of top ten reforming countries in  the world.
Speaking further,”We also moved 24 places,admittedly from a very low ranking admittedly;.because before we came,Nigeria has been sliding backwards,and the last time Nigeria was in top hundred was around 2005-2006,which was another time,when we had a bit of reforms.”
‎”What has happened,since then is that people paid lip service and did not really do reforms. In fairness to World Bank and all these people,once we got on this boat,they recognised it and we hope that that process will continue”
Enelemah said, “Let me also say that in terms of the 60 days Action Plan,we have actually done three,and we are in the third series of it. We had done one at the beginning of last year,between February to April last year.
According to Enelemah, “The National Action Plan is a plan to focus on very specific actionable things you could do within a short time. Basically, it covers all the critical areas based on the work we have done at the secretariat for we have a Secretariat called the enabling business council secretariat.”
On how World ranks businesses,the Minister said,”As you may know the World Bank ease of doing business ranks the life cycle of a business;thus all the issue,challenges  that business go through from birth to if it eventually seizes to exist.”
Industry watchers said Nigeria must sustain the reforms it is currently embarking on,while also deepening such reforms with legal backing to ensure ‎Nigeria attracts the right kind of investments and create wealth for the economy.