Regulatory Alert: Reform Intervention to Improve Ease of Doing Business in Nigeria

FEC Approves Revised National Tax Policy

The Enabling Business Environment Secretariat (EBES), under the aegis of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC), recently organized a stakeholders meeting to sensitize the public on ongoing economic reforms. This follows the set-up of PEBEC by President Muhammad Buhari with the mandate of making Nigeria an easier place to do business.

PEBEC’s short term target is to improve Nigeria’s rankings in the next World Bank Ease of Doing Business Report by at least 20 positions. This implies that Nigeria’s ranking must move from its current position of 169 to less than 150 out of 190 countries reviewed by the World Bank. In the long run, PEBEC aims to ensure Nigeria ranks within the top 100 countries by 2019.

To achieve its objectives, PEBEC has commenced an immediate 60 days national action plan on three key priority areas – entry and exit of goods; entry and exit of people and government transparency and procurement.

Based on feedback from relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) who participated at the stakeholders meeting, the reforms already implemented include:

Starting a business

i. Visa issuance

– Visa on arrival now effective
– Forty eight (48) hour visa issuance by Nigerian embassies

ii. Business registration

– Automated name search with Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC)
– Decentralization of the business registration process whereby applications do not have to be referred to Abuja
– Introduction of a new form CAC1.1 which consolidates previous forms – CAC 2, 2.1, 4 & 7

Access to credit

i. Registering movable assets: The National Collateral Registry (NCR), an initiative of the Central Bank of Nigeria has been set up to improve access to finance particularly for Micro Small and Medium Enterprises. The NCR is a central database for registering movable assets which can be used as collateral for accessing finance

Paying taxes

i. E-filing and payment of taxes: The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has set up the Integrated Tax Administrative System for electronic filing and payment of taxes

ii. Online tax registration: The FIRS has set-up an online platform for tax registration and obtaining tax clearance certifications

Getting electricity

i. Connecting a new consumer

– Registration forms available online for download
– All new registrants are now given meters to measure usage before consumption begins

ii. Customer support: Distribution companies have provided twenty four (24) hour operational customer care numbers
Registering property

i. Automation of permits: Lagos State Government has automated the issuance of electronic Certificate Of Occupancy and Planning Permits

Feedback from participants at the meeting indicates that some of the reforms enumerated above have not become fully operational. Whilst this teething problem appear normal, business community and other stakeholders are required to explore the improved procedures that is aimed at making it easier to do business in Nigeria and continue to place demand on the system for overall improvement. The immediate target may have been set at improving Nigeria’s ranking, the ultimate goal is to have a system that works for everyone making investment decisions in Nigeria.

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