Saturday, 15 April 2017

Our Billionnaire Speculators Are Holding Nigeria By The Jugular

•Why pumping of dollars in Forex market
will not work
•TSA with banks is suicide mission By Ishola Balogun The Chief Facilitator, Nigeria Ease of
Doing Business Initiative and Group
Managing Director of CFL Group of
Companies, a foremost infrastructure
company with diversified project
portfolios, Mr. Lai Omotola, speaks on the economy. Excerpts: •Lai Omotola What is ‘Ease of Doing Business Initiative’
all about? The Nigeria Ease of Doing Business Initiative is the
idea of CFL group. It is purely a private initiative.
We have decided to come up with this initiative to
monitor the progress made by the Federal
Government and 36 State Governments in Nigeria.
The federal government recently said it would make deliberate efforts to improve the ease of
doing business in the country. Like every word of
commitment made by previous governments, we
want to make sure that this deliberate commitment
impacts on the economy. This is our own idea of
how the economy could be further improved. Can you give more insight into how to
actualise the philosophy of this initiative? According to the World Bank, there are 10 indices
often used to measure the ease of doing business
globally. What we have discovered is that for
every index we see, we look at the parastatal in
charge of every sector and examine it. The first
index is starting a business. The first step of starting a business in Nigeria is registration of the company
name. The Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC)
has said Nigerians can register their companies in
48 hours. As practitioners, we have not
experienced it. The fastest that we have seen so far
is two weeks. Our strategy is to classify all businesses according to sectors. Our aim is to
engage the 36 states and see the ease of doing
business. We will play an advisory role to the
governments at national and sub-national levels.
We will begin to rate ease of doing business in
each state monthly. We will rate parastatals that are important to the country’s economy monthly to
put the Chief Executives on their toes. We will look
at other indices aside those that were listed by the
World Bank. The CAC tells us that it is easy to
register companies online. We will test it and
organize discussion with the CAC. At that forum, lawyers and other stakeholders will sit down and
engage the agency. Another is getting a work
permit. The World Bank sets the parameter
because in every economy, one of the boosters is
construction of houses. It is very important. We all
know no one can start construction without having any approval. For instance, when one
wants to construct a building and has about one
year. Within the time-frame, he was frustrated in
getting building approval. Perhaps he spends six
months of the construction struggling to secure
building approval. There is no state today that can issue building approval within two weeks. Lagos is
trying because they now have electronic planning
permit. It is automated, but still requires human
interface that will make it bureaucratic. But unstable power supply poses graver
challenge? Undoubtedly, electricity is another key element.
What is our performance in providing electricity
for the masses? The question now is that are we
improving or stagnant? We will be engaging the
Discos and Gencos on how they have fared in the
last few years. Property registration is as important as electricity. In fact, it the fourth index that the
World uses to measure the ease of doing business
in any country. Looking at Nigeria, how long does
it take for anyone to get government consent or
Certificate of Ownership? We all know the answer.
Registration of a property is important. When one asset is registered, one can get value for it in the
bank. But it remains a serious challenge for many.
This is because it is still in the hand of the
government. So, we will be engaging the Land
Bureau to know what they are doing as regards
this. Getting credit from banks is a major index. We have 24 commercial banks in Nigeria. All the
banks are not interested in issuing credit to
customers. This is due to the economic challenges.
We have all agreed that access to credit is very
important. But it is pathetic that we are not getting
access to credit. Also, we know there are two critical sectors of our economy that must have
access to credit. The small and medium enterprise
(SME) is one while the other is real sector. It will
be very difficult to explain any economy that will
grow without access to credit. So, we will be
engaging our financial institutions, Central Bank of Nigeria and Ministry of Finance among others.

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