At different levels of government, there is a need to take a second look at the regulation of small businesses with a view to addressing peculiar challenges they face in order to further promote private sector contribution to the country’s economic development.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo made the observation in Abuja Monday at the commissioning of the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Trade & Convention Centre.
According to the Vice President, “with respect to government policy, of course, you are aware that the government’s position is that we must continue, on an incremental basis, to provide for ourselves, a properly enabling business environment in every respect which is why we have Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) which focuses on trying to improve on the business environment.”
Prof. Osinbajo said “but I think that one of the drawbacks that we have had in improving the business environment is really with respect to how we regulate small businesses. So, for example in Abuja, I hear very frequently, small businesses who talk about the kind of problems that they experience, either with fumigation licenses, or one license or the other. All manner of constraints, which ideally should not occur.”
Citing a presidential directive on improving the business environment in the country, the Vice President said, “the private sector must work, very actively with us, in ensuring that we are policemen and women of the regulations.”
Prof. Osinbajo explained that “a time has come for us to have a Chamber of Commerce, paying attention to all that is going on in the MSMEs space especially with respect to regulation. You must call out government officials who are making it difficult for people to do business.
“If you recall, the President himself said that there is no way the private sector and business can thrive if government officials see themselves as roadblocks and hindrances as opposed to facilitators. Every government regulator must be a facilitator of business that is the way forward. We cannot afford a situation where government regulators see themselves as policemen only, they must be facilitators of things.”
The Vice President noted that “I know that the Minister of the FCT is actively working with the PEBEC and the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, have all been concerned about making this work. But Abuja is just one example of how generally speaking, all over the country, we need to take a second look at how we regulate small businesses.”
Speaking on the impact the Buhari administration’s pro-business finance initiatives, the Vice President said “as part of government policy, we have already more or less removed some of the major taxes. For Corporation taxes, if your turnover is under N25 million, your tax is zero. And we have reduced incrementally all the way up. So, with respect to Corporation taxes, at least, we know that we are doing quite well.
“If you look at the proposed Finance Act, there are several incentives for small businesses,” the Vice President added.
On the significance of the Convention Centre, the Vice President said “I was quite shocked frankly to see that such an incredibly sized building could have been done purely by voluntary private-sector effort. This is why, in my opinion, this is a very important event because it underscores the strength and dynamism of our private sector which is a crucial component of economic development.”
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Prof. Osinbajo noted that “as a matter of fact, I think that we are all generally, in agreement that there are at least three trends that will determine our economic development. The first, of course, is government policy, the second is private sector investment, and the third is that part of the private sector which is the SMEs sector. I think that those three will definitely determine the way that our economic development trajectory proceeds in this country.”
Earlier in his remark, Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Niyi Adebayo assured the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) of his ministry’s support in growing businesses in Nigeria.
On his part, President of ACCI, Prince Adetokunbo Kayode said the Convention Centre will serve as a place for the promotion of Nigerian businesses and the empowerment of the youths.
The Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry was established in 1986 with the principal objective of promoting economic and industrial development within the FCT in particular and Nigeria in general.