By Chijioke Okoronkwo
Abuja, Oct. 14, 2020 The Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC), chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo says the proposed Omnibus business reform bill is to institutionalise all the reforms for easy implementation and sustenance of business climate transformation efforts.
Dr Jumoke Oduwole, Special Adviser to the President on Ease of Doing Business, in a statement on Wednesday in Abuja, said that steady progress had been made in the transformation of Nigeria’s business climate over the years.
According to her, PEBEC will, in the coming weeks, boost the process of consolidating the gains recorded through the enactment of a new law that encompasses all the reforms into a single legislation.
“After implementing several policies that helped in deepening reforms at both the national and sub-national levels, Nigeria’s rating on the global scale of ease of doing business improved in 2018 and 2019.
“ The successes were driven by the implementation of over 140 reforms by PEBEC between 2016 and 2019.’’
She said the Enabling Business Environment Secretariat (EBES), an arm of the presidency driving the reforms, in 2017, sought and got the approval of PEBEC to adopt an Omnibus Bill as a legislative reform tool for business climate reform.
Oduwole said that the EBES team had engaged with stakeholders across the legal and business community for their input.
She said EDES had interacted with the Nigerian Bar Association – Section on Business Law (NBA SBL), the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) and the National Assembly Business Environment Roundtable (NASSBER).
Oduwole said EDES has also engaged other organised private sector stakeholders and members of the public at large.
The special adviser said the new bill, will among other things, amend some provisions of the present legislative framework that had been identiﬁed by stakeholders as bottlenecks for the business climate reforms.
She said that the new bill would introduce new provisions to accentuate business climate reforms; for instance, components of the Executive orders like One Government principle, Default Approval among others.
“In Q4 2017, over 40 law ﬁrms from across the country supported an SBL Steering Committee pro bono to review and categorise the submissions received, which were then distilled into a document that formed the basis of the work of the drafting team from the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) that resulted in the earlier version of the draft bill prepared in 2018.
“The bill is now being reopened for review and further input because a number of the provisions earlier included in the draft have been addressed by the Financial Act 2019 and Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) 2020.”
“Just like a standard bill, Omnibus bills are formal proposals to change laws that are voted on by lawmakers and transmitted to the executive arm for ﬁnal approval.
“The deference with Omnibus Bills is that they contain numerous smaller Bills, ostensibly on the same broad topic. For instance, an Omnibus Tax Bill may include changes on everything from income, corporate, and sales taxes, but all of those issues can ﬁt under the large umbrella of taxes,’’ she said.
According to her, the Omnibus Bill aims to consolidate legislative provisions and has been used in several countries across the globe.
Oduwole said that the Eastern European country, Georgia, undertook such omnibus business climate legislation in 2005 when the country amended at least 30 parliamentary legislations all at once.
The presidential aide said that there was need to avoid a repeat of the controversies that greeted the CAMA Act 2020.
She said there was need for Nigerians across diverse fields especially business operators, lawyers and accountants, to leverage the ongoing process of drafting the new law.
Oduwole said that the deadline for the submission of inputs and suggestions had been fixed for Oct. 23.