|Ms. Marie Francoise Marie-Nelly, World Bank Country Director, Nigeria|
The Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, which gave insight into the report yesterday said the study, which benchmarked four regulatory areas such as starting a business; dealing with construction permits; registering property and enforcing contracts, also measured the progress made by the respective states since January 2010, when the last benchmarking exercise was conducted.
According to the report, from 2010 till date, the country recorded 34 improvements in its ‘Ease of Doing Business’ index, of which 13 focused on starting a business, eight on dealing with construction permits, 10 on registering property, and three on enforcing contracts.
Specifically, the report stated: “For the first time, Doing Business in Nigeria 2014 recorded reforms that make it easier to start a business. In nine states, it is now faster to register a new business with the Corporate Affairs Commission.
“Hiring new staff, computerisation, management training, opening a bank desk within the Corporate Affairs Commission premises, and better tracking of applications were some of the measures taken to increase efficiency.”
It added: “By opening stamp-duty and tax registration offices in several new locations, the federal tax authority eliminated the need to travel out of state in Anambra, Cross River, Edo, Kwara, Nasarawa, Ogun, and Zamfara.
“In Anambra, Delta, Lagos and Ogun, registering the business premises with the state authorities was streamlined. The average time required to deal with construction permits in Nigeria is 63 days—significantly faster than the sub-Saharan Africa average of 171 days.”
Speaking during the public presentation of the report in Abuja, on Monday, the World Bank Country Director, Nigeria, Ms. Marie Francoise Marie-Nelly, said 22 states in Nigeria recorded significant improvements in their Ease of Doing Business ratings within the period under review.
The states are: Anambra, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Ekiti, Enugu, Imo, Jigawa, Kaduna, Katsina, Lagos, Nasarawa, Niger, Ogun, Ondo, Oyo, Plateau, Rivers and Zamfara states.
Out the 22 that recorded significant improvements in their Doing Business indices, Cross River, Niger, Ogun, Rivers and Ekiti states made more progress than others.
She said, “Since 2005, Sub-National Doing Business Projects have benchmarked more than 355 locations in 55 countries and have recorded 389 business regulatory reforms.” Progress is measured in four regulatory areas, such as starting a business, dealing with construction permits, registering property and enforcing contracts.
Twenty two states have improved in at least one of the four areas we measured. Most states have improved their business environment since 2010.
However, five states - Cross River, Niger, Ogun, Ekiti and Rivers stood out for introducing several high-impact reforms that narrowed the gap to best practices the most.”
Marie-Nelly noted that the improvement in the Ease of Doing Business in most of the states of the federation was a positive landmark for the federal government’s Doing Business and Investment Climate Reforms Programme, which it is currently implementing in partnership with the World Bank and DFID.
She added: “Nigeria’s business climate has improve significantly since 2010 when the last benchmarking exercise was conducted. This is a positive achievement we all should be proud. This shows that change is possible in Nigeria, especially now that the country positioned itself as the largest economy in Africa and the leading destination for foreign direct investment globally.”
Speaking during the presentation of the report, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr. Olusegun Aganga, said his ministry had prioritised the implementation of far-reaching investment climate reform programmes, in line with President Goodluck Jonathan’s Transformation Agenda. THISDAY