State governments on Thursday restated their commitment to initiate and implement Doing Business reforms that will positively impact on businesses and stand them out among their peers in the World Bank sub-national rankings. This commitment was made in Abuja at the kick-off mission for the Sub-National Doing Business (SNDB) in Nigeria project organised by the World Bank and the Enabling Business Environment Secretariat (EBES).
Opening statements to the workshop were made by the Honourable Minister of State, Budget and National Planning, who is Chair of the Nigerian Economic Council (NEC) Implementation Monitoring Committee, through a representative; and the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr. Aminu Bisalla.
Welcoming participants to the event, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Jumoke Oduwole, thanked state governments for their willingness to drive the sub-national rankings project. She noted that some states are already implementing reforms, but a lot more could be achieved by applying best practices like efficiency, transparency and performance management. According to Dr. Oduwole, “the key barometer on whether the various reforms are working will be the testimonials of small and medium business owners across the country.”
The workshop had commissioners of trade and commerce, budget and national planning, heads of investment agencies and other focal persons from nearly 20 states in attendance.
A Reform Leader at the Enabling Business Environment Secretariat (EBES), Mrs. Toyin Bashir, stated that Doing Business reforms at the state level “will lead to job creation, as MSMEs currently make up 90% of registered businesses in Nigeria; better living standards; and increased foreign direct investments at a time when the country is grappling with a decline in oil prices.”
Bashir explained that removing bottlenecks around the 11 indicators on which states are to be ranked will provide relief for business owners and signal to the world that Nigeria is open for business.
“The 11 indicators affect firms throughout their life cycles. ‘Starting a Business’ and ‘Regulatory Environment’ affect firms at startup phase; ‘Infrastructure’ and ‘Growth & Productivity’ affect firms in their daily operations; while ‘Registering Property’, ‘Access to land and property’ and ‘Dealing with Construction permits’ affect the firms when trying to get a location,” Bashir said. Furthermore, she explained that “‘Enforcing Contracts’ is a relevant indicator for when things go wrong, while ‘Transparency and accessibility to information’ is crucial at all phases of the business.”
The World Bank Doing Business Country Adviser for Nigeria, Ms. Cemile Hacibeyoglu, listed some common features of successful reformers. Sharing best practice experiences from countries like Colombia, Costa Rica, Rwanda and Korea, she said “high-level leadership and ownership of the reform agenda, long term vision with clear objectives, inclusive reform process, detailed goals, private sector commitment and effective communication” are essential for a successful reform process.
In an interactive panel session, three states shared experiences on ongoing reform efforts and challenges – Kaduna State represented by the Commissioner of Commerce, Industry and Tourism, Dr. Manzo Maigari; Sokoto State by Commissioner of Commerce, Mr. A. Aminu; and the Special Adviser to the Governor of the State of Osun on Public Service Productivity, Mr. Ademola Adeyinka.
The World Bank sub-national rankings of Nigerian states is expected to be released in 2018. It will be the fourth in the series, with the most recent conducted in 2014. The Enabling Business Environment Secretariat (EBES) and the Nigerian Investment Promotion Council (NIPC) have both committed to supporting the state governments by facilitating collaboration and knowledge sharing workshops among the states as they implement their priority reforms..
It will be recalled that at the July 2017 National Economic Council (NEC) meeting, the Honourable Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah, and the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Jumoke Oduwole, had made a presentation seeking the buy-in of governors for the sub-national rankings. The project was unanimously endorsed by the governors at the meeting.