By Levinus Nwabughiogu
ABUJA—As part of measures to attract foreign investors and guarantee ease of doing business in Nigeria, the Federal Government has approved processing of visas within 48 hours and given waivers to some countries.
The measures were disclosed at the 7th meeting of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council, PEBEC, presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The meeting was essentially called to appraise the readiness of Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs, governments in the 60-Day National Action Plan on Ease of Doing Business to intensify efforts towards ensuring delivery before the April 21, 2017, deadline.
Speaking at the meeting, Osinbajo noted that although progress had been made in the last 30 days of implementing the Action Plan, a lot more remained to be done to ensure that Nigeria was progressively made an easier place for businesses to thrive.
In her presentation, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Industry, Trade and Investment, and Secretary to PEBEC, Dr. Jumoke Oduwole, informed the council of some reforms implemented by the Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC, since the Action Plan was approved in February.
“Documents can now be uploaded directly on the CAC portal rather than manual submission; a single form has been introduced for company incorporation to save time and costs and the FIRS e-payment solution has been integrated with the CAC portal to facilitate e-stamping,” she said.
Oduwole also explained that crucial directives had been issued by cabinet ministers on palletisation of imports into Nigeria; submission of advanced cargo manifests and reducing the number of procedures required to get connected to the electricity grid.
She said: “The Nigeria Immigration Service has consolidated arrival and departure forms; the Ministry of Interior has drafted a new Visa Policy outlining visa-free entry for certain countries and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has issued a second directive on 48-hour visa processing time.”
Members agreed that a key task in the next phase of the plan would be to reduce documentation requirements at the ports in order to ease the entry and exit of goods into the country.
The Council noted that the number of documents required for exports and imports was higher in Nigeria than in other African countries such as Kenya, Ghana, Rwanda, Benin and South Africa.
If fully implemented, the National Action Plan could potentially lead to N2.6 billion savings by SMEs in registration costs to start businesses annually; 116,000 minutes of travelling time saved daily; 60 per cent reduction in time to register property; and 23,500 hours saved by exporters annually.
The PEBEC meeting was attended by the governor of Kano State, Abdullahi Ganduje; Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah; Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun; Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola; Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazau, and Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment.
Also present were the Deputy Leader of the Senate, Bala Na’allah; Registrar General of the Corporate Affairs Commission; Bello Mahmud; Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs Service, Hameed Ali, retd; and Comptroller General of the Nigeria Immigration Service, Muhammad Babandede.