CFL unfolds ‘Ease of doing Business in Nigeria initiative’, seeks improved construction sector

ASIDE the indices put in place by the World Bank in rating countries’ ease of doing business, an indigenous organisation, CFL Group, last week, unfolded its plan to engage governments, corporate groups, parastatals and other relevant organisations on how Nigerian businesses can meet the current domestic realities.

Speaking on the initiative, “Nigeria Ease of Doing Business in Nigeria,” Group Managing Director, CFL, Mr Lai Omotola, an engineer, said the initiative is a child of CFL group, which is purely a private idea.

According to Omotola, CFL decided to come up with the initiative, ostensibly to monitor the progress made by the Federal and the 36 State governments in Nigeria, especially, in view of the pronouncement by the federal government that 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 is impactful.

“This is our own philosophy of how the economy could be further improved, because there are certain issues that the World Bank did not consider,” he said.

CLF GMD listed staffing, security, infrastructure, system of education and the economy, both at macro and micro levels as areas that the World Bank failed to consider under her 10-point of reference.

For example, CFL is going to monitor the process of getting a work permit. The World Bank sets the parameter because in every economy, one of the boosters is construction sector.

“We know that no one can start construction without having the necessary approval. For instance, when one wants to construct a building and has about one year time frame, but couldn’t get approval, frustration will set in. Perhaps the developer spends six months struggling to secure building approval, what is the possibility of coming out with quality product?

“There is no state today that can issue building approval within two weeks, except Lagos that is trying because the state now have electronic planning permit. It is automated, but still requires human interface that will make it less bureaucratic”, he said.

Looking at the fourth index that the World Bank uses to measure the ease of doing business in any country and how long it takes for anyone to get government consent or Certificate of Ownership (CofO) in Nigeria, Omotola, while deplored the snail speed at which the document is being procured, emphasised the importance of property registration.

“When one’s 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.

“Besides, getting credit from banks is a major index. We have 24 commercial banks in Nigeria and unfortunately, 90 percent of them 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 it”, he said, adding that there are two critical sectors of the economy that must have access to credit. These are small and medium enterprise (SME) and the other is real estate sector.

He also listed another critical index that World Bank looked into which is starting a business. The first step of starting a business in Nigeria is registration of the company name, with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) claiming that Nigerians can register their companies in 48 hours.

“As practitioners, we have not experienced it. The fastest that we have seen so far is say, two, three weeks or more. Our strategy is to classify all businesses according to sectors, while our aim is to engage the 36 states and ensure 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; Rates parastatals that are important to the country’s economy on monthly basis and to put their chief executives on their toes.

“The CAC tells us that it is easy to do register companies online. We will test it and organize focus discussion with the body at a forum, where lawyers and other stakeholders will sit down and engage the agency”, said Omotola.

On the way out of the economic doldrums, Omotola was of the view that no single person can solve the nation’s problems.

According to him, every stakeholder must come together and work out strategies to bail Nigeria out of the woods.

“Before we identify the stakeholders, we must continue with the advocacy which is also a huge work. When we intensify our advocacy that will help bring together the stakeholders and that will bring about solution.

“After identifying the solution, we will embark on advocacy to ensure that the solution is implemented,” he concluded.