The Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC) has said that Nigeria ranks 146 out of 190 countries on the Ease of Doing Business globally. The Executive Secretary of the Commission, Ms Yewande Smith, said this while delivering a lecture at the ongoing 43rd Annual Conference and Dinner of The Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators of Nigeria (ICSAN), on Thursday in Lagos.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Conference was tagged, “Ease of Doing Business in Nigeria: The Role of Regulatory Agencies.’’Smith, who was represented by Mr Mutawalli Kukawa, Acting Director, Investment Relations, NIPC, said the ranking was carried out by the World Bank.
According to the report, which was presented at the lecture, Nigeria’s Ease of Doing Business scores improved by 1.37 points from 51.52 distance to frontier (DTF) in 2018 to 52.89 in 2019.
She added that the Commission had adopted some proactive strategies geared towards improving Nigeria’s Investment Promotion, thereby helping to create an ease in doing business.
“The Proactive Investment Promotion strategies include focusing on key strategic partners and countries, identifying high impact sectors, better balance investors’ rights with obligations, improving investor experience and user feedback to develop the business environment.’’
Others are: proactively inviting target companies to Nigeria and hand-holding them through decision making and the implementation process, and encouraging more Nigerians to invest in the country.
“We encourage states to develop investment promotion agencies, so that they will be specifically charged with the responsibility of promoting the states,’’ she said.
Smith, however, cautioned investors to ensure that they abide by the relevant investment laws in the nation.
She urged the government to enable investors so they can create more jobs that will have a significant impact on the economy.
Earlier, the President of ICSAN, Mr Bode Ayeku, said the theme of this year’s conference tagged, “Ease of Doing Business in Nigeria: The Role of Regulatory Agencies,’’ was part of the institute’s contribution to the development of the economy.
“Ease of doing business is very relevant at this stage of our socio-economic development, getting it right will enable us to make significant progress towards achieving the much sought after diversified and inclusive economy,’’ he said.
Ayeku, however, noted that the existing bottlenecks in setting up businesses would create a loss of foreign investments to other nations with more attractive and business-friendly procedural regulations.
The president pledged the support of the Institute to work with relevant stakeholders in achieving government’s vision, to be among the top 100 countries in World Bank’s Doing Business Index by 2020.
Mr Wole Abayomi, Head of Tax, Regulatory and Peoples’ Services, KPMG Nigeria, said lack of professionalism was one of the challenges in promoting the ease of doing business.
He said for Nigeria to enjoy a hitch-free business environment, professionals and professionalism must be entrenched from the top down to the players in the business world.
Abayomi said the Nigerian business environment can only be conducive only if a crop of personnel at every regulatory agency are professionals in their respective disciplines and organizations.
“One cannot give what one does not have, we must reject all manner of cronyism and enforce meritocracy, so both the public and private sector must pursue professionalism.
“It’s expected that personnel of repute who know their onions be in the vanguard of making those laws and regulations that would impact positively on the economy, this must start with the people in electing their leaders and our leaders appointing competent people into strategic sectors,’’ he said.
Abayomi added that the attributes of true professionals include specialized knowledge, competence, honesty and integrity, accountability, self-regulation and discipline, personal image and reputation.
Abayomi, however, noted lapses observed were as a result of factors which include: monopoly, lack of meritocracy in recruitment, disparity of quality of people, brain drain, particularly in the health sector and stagnancy of public sector reforms.
He decried the lack of meritocracy in the recruitment processes in the nation, saying that “federal character could be operated without being unprofessional,’’ if those qualified from different regions are placed according to their qualifications.
Abayomi recommended that for professionalism to be entrenched, in order to create an ease in doing business, it was imperative to raise the standards in the public sector to ensure it doesn’t become a liability.
“Without the best people, led by exemplary leaders, embedding professionalism in the organizations they lead, it will remain elusive in the public and private sectors,’’ he said.