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    Ease of doing business: FG assures states support on reforms

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    Lagos, June 24, 2021 The Federal Government on Thursday assured states of its support in the development of their respective reform action plans to drive the nation’s ease of doing business ranking.
    Dr Jumoke Oduwole, Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Ease of Doing Business, made the pledge at the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) Roundtable on Ease of Doing Business.
    Oduwole said specific findings of the survey report for each state should be reflected in the rigorous implementation roadmaps to deliver tangible impact for enhanced productivity of the Nigerian economy.
    This, she said, would provide an important push, in the government’s drive to support Nigerian businesses to gain more competitiveness momentum for the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
    Oduwole said that the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) undertook an Ease of Doing Business (EoDB) Subnational Baseline Survey.
    The survey, according to her, was done as part of its efforts to deepen business climate reforms across the 36 States of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
    She said it would serve to provide status report on the current attractiveness of states business climates for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs).
    Oduwole said that homegrown indicators for states surveyed were infrastructure and security, transparency and access to information, regulatory environment and skills, and workforce readiness.
    “Each State was rated on a ten-point scale across the four indicators, which provided the basis for calculating the overall performance of the state.
    “Survey result shows that no single Nigerian state dominates all indicators and suggests that most states have areas to showcase as well as areas for improvement, thereby enriching the peer-learning process.
    “An analysis of the results data reveals Gombe as the overall best performer across all four indicators, with Gombe, Akwa-Ibom, Sokoto and Ekiti States emerging best performers across each of the four indicators.
    “Key opportunities for improvement, according to the report, range from the need for improved infrastructure, efficient public service delivery, stronger monitoring and evaluation capacity and regulatory reforms to remove the constraints on doing business in the country.
    “It is expected that the next edition of the survey will fully reflect the improvements brought about by reforms undertaken by State Governments.
    “PEBEC will continue to champion predictable and consistent policies towards positioning the government as a partner for business and investment, not as a competitor or inhibitor of economic growth,” she said.
    Mrs Toki Mabogunje, President, LCCI, noted that businesses and investors still grappled with several structural, policy and regulatory challenges, which kept the cost of doing business elevated.
    She said access to domestic and international financing opportunities, particularly among Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), was still limited.
    This, she noted, was in spite of the accommodative policy stance of the Central Bank of Nigeria.
    “Just a few SMEs benefited from the low-interest rate regime in the previous year.
    “Similarly, the combination of domestic inflationary pressure coupled with foreign exchange illiquidity has significantly impacted operating costs with serious implications for profitability.
    “The huge deficit in public infrastructure, heightening insecurity, weakening purchasing power, inefficiencies at the ports are some of the other challenges faced by the business community.
    “It would be almost impossible to attract and retain private investments without an enabling environment, as no private enterprise can scale, expand, and create new job opportunities if the environment is not investment-friendly.
    “A supportive and conducive environment is needed to accelerate the pace of economic recovery, regain investor confidence, attract fresh investments, and generate employment opportunities,” she said.
    Dr Muda Yusuf, Director-General, LCCI, encouraged private sector players to speak up loud enough to ensure that issues being faced by the sector would filter all the way up to the federal government.
    Yusuf, noting that each state had its own peculiarities affecting its business community, urged the private sector to deepen their engagements at the state level, as PEBEC could not handle all the issues confronting the business community
    “We should escalate issues anytime we have challenges hindering our businesses,” he said.
    Yusuf said that other issues affecting the ease of doing business in the country include the regulatory environment, the required skills set and multiplicity of taxes being levied on businesses in the country

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