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Brand custodians, regulators make case for ‘responsible’ regulation

FOR many, the recent roundtable discussion, organised by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), could not have come at a more auspicious time.

The  roundtable, which had its  thematic thrusts woven around responsible regulatory activities among agencies of government and the nation’s businesses, according to the organisers, was to ensure that while business activities should be guided and guarded by a set of rules.  Such rules should,  however, not be detrimental to the businesses they seek to protect.

Flagging off the discussion, the President of the Chamber, Mr Babatunde Ruwase explained that the forum provided a platform where business owners and representatives of some of the nation’s regulatory agencies, could actually deliberate on how regulations could enhance, rather than impede  businesses in Nigeria.

The LCCI boss argued that to ensure a viable and profitable business, a saner and more friendly regulatory environment has become imperative in Nigeria.

Ruwase noted that such regulatory environment had become imperative for the private sector to fulfill the desired role of wealth job creation, as prescribed in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan of the Federal Government.

He explained that the interactive forum with  key regulatory institutions, having oversight functions on private sector activities, such as the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Consumer Protection Council (CPC), Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), was to afford the agencies and the business community the chance to interact and understand themselves better, in order to bring an improvement to the regulatory environment for investors.

While commending the regulatory agencies for being at the forefront of promoting standards and  protecting the country from incidence of substandard and fake products over the years, the LCCI boss, however, lamented that the actions of some of the agencies were not in tune with the Federal Government’s ease of doing business agenda.

Such actions, he argued, bordered on high regulatory compliance costs, lack of clarity in regulatory requirements and overlapping regulatory functions, among others.

“It is imperative to minimise the burden of regulation on investors, if the private sector must play the desired role of wealth job creation, as prescribed in the Economic Recovery Growth Plan (ERGP).

“Already businesses are generally overburdened with the challenges of infrastructural deficiencies and macro-economic shocks. Today, most investors are saddled with huge cost for the provision of electricity, access road, security and other industry-specific facilities in the midst of poor access to affordable credit, multiple taxation and high exchange rate,” he stated.

He however harped on the need for the Federal Government to support the  nation’s real sector and SMEs, since they are critical  to national economic development, especially with regards to job creation and poverty reduction.

Speaking on behalf of the Director-General of SON, Mr Osita Aboloma, the agency’s Head, Customer Feedback and Collaboration, Mrs Mosunmola Samuel, re-assured the nation’s business community of the agency’s commitment to ensuring that standards are strictly adhered to while keeping faith with the ease of doing business agenda of the Federal Government.

According to her, the major pre-occupation of the agency has been to ensure that standards are strictly adhered to by brand custodians in the products and services they offer the consuming public.

She, however, debunked claims in some quarters about the activities of the agency being deliberately inimical to the growth of businesses in Nigeria, arguing that between 2016 till date, the agency had concentrated on building the nation’s small and medium scale enterprises.

For instance, she explained, the agency had improved on its standards development process, and equipped its laboratories to enable it  carry out tests on products without delay.

Also speaking at the forum, the Acting Executive Commissioner, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Mr Henry Rowland, explained that the role of the commission was to regulate the capital market and ensure that the rights of investors  are not infringed on.

One of the ways the commission hopes to achieve that, he argued, is by introducing financial literary for investors.

“We are aggressively addressing investor education, by introducing financial literacy for investors. This is one of the ways we plan to educate them and let them know the rudiments of the operation of that market,” he stated.

While decrying some organisations, whose boards had failed to declare dividends for their shareholders, in the past three years, Rowland, however, counseled the shareholders of such companies to sack the boards and appoint new ones that could run the organisations more effectively.

Technical Assistant, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Mrs Sinmidele Onabajo explained that the role of the agency is to create an enabling environment for businesses to thrive.

According to her, the agency, with a workforce of 2300 staff, spread across the federation, is determined to ensure some encumbrances some of its regulations had put in the ways of businesses in the past were cleared.

“For instance, over 6,000 applications we met in the system before 2017, have been cleared, while we have succeeded in harmonising 65 regulations, all with the aim of enhancing the ease of doing business in Nigeria,” she added.

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