Lagos, PEBEC to remove barriers to ease of doing business

The Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council and the Lagos State Government in a collaborative engagement have declared moves to put measures in place to eliminate bureaucratic bottlenecks inhibiting ease of doing in the state.

This is trailing reports that the Gross Domestic Products of Lagos grew from N27 trillion to N41 trillion under the administration of the State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, with claims laid to efforts facilitated to promoting ease of doing business in the state.

Sanwo-Olu, at the extraordinary 9th Lagos Corporate Assembly, in Lagos, explained that the government believes the phenomenal growth in its economy has been made possible through the initiation and implementation of deliberate policies and intentional strategies to facilitate and promote a conducive environment for business to thrive.

“Let me state here that, through our T.H.E.M.E.S+ Development Agenda, we remain steadfast in our commitment to sustaining an enabling environment for businesses to grow and thrive. This agenda encapsulates our vision for a Greater Lagos, particularly the 4th Pillar M, which is Making Lagos a 21st Century Economy.

“Using the instrument of the agenda, we have introduced numerous policy reforms to ease the doing of business in Lagos. We are simplifying regulatory processes, improving infrastructure, and leveraging technology to streamline interactions between businesses and government agencies.

“Our goal is to minimise bureaucratic bottlenecks and create a seamless experience for all businesses operating in our State,” he said.

He added that, “A case in point was when the Ministry of Commerce, Cooperatives, Trade & Investment, in conjunction with the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council, PEBEC interfaced to align the position of a State Agency with a platinum PEBEC member towards facilitating a mutually agreeable working relationship.

“The role brought the parties to a dialogue table in an atmosphere of equity and fairness. This is the way we want to continue to work as both State MDAs and members of the Organised Private Sector see each other as partners in progress.”

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Sanwo-Olu who was represented on Tuesday by his deputy, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat at the LCA, the 4th in the series of the Babajide Olusola Sunwo-Olu (BOS) Meets With Business Community said the government remained steadfast in its commitment to sustaining an enabling environment for businesses to grow and thrive.

Speaking on the significance of the forum with the theme; “Unpacking Barriers to Ease of Doing Business: Accelerating Business Growth”, Sanwo-Olu mentioned that LCA has become a virile public-private engagement platform, through which the state government and the business community interact and discuss issues that are germane to Ease of Doing Business and business prosperity in the state.

He said, “This gathering is a testament to our unwavering commitment to fostering a conducive environment for businesses to thrive in Lagos State.

“As an administration, we take the Lagos Corporate Assembly as a crucial platform for public-private dialogue, where we collectively identify challenges, discuss solutions, and chart a course for sustainable economic growth and development. This is because we recognise the power of stakeholder engagement and the importance of providing a listening ear to the business community.

“Our resolve is to make the LCA a formidable platform for public-private collaboration, ensuring that your voices are heard and your concerns are addressed promptly. We are determined to turn the feedback we receive from you into actionable policies that will further ease the business environment in Lagos.”

He assured the business community of continued support of his administration to be unreservedly committed “to providing the necessary resources, infrastructure, and policies that will ensure your businesses not only survive but thrive.”

“We will continue to engage with you, listen to your needs, and implement reforms that will foster an environment necessary to grow your businesses,” he assured.

While assuring the business community to incorporate their feedback into policy formulation and regulatory reviews, Sanwo-Olu noted, “As we gather here today, let us reaffirm our collective commitment to overcoming the barriers to ease of doing business. Let us work together to accelerate business growth, create more jobs, and drive economic development in Lagos State.”

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A member of the PEBEC, Dr Jumoke Oduwole said the mandate of the council was to remove bureaucratic bottlenecks and improve the perception of doing business in Nigeria.

The council, chaired by the Vice President, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, has other members including 19 ministers, representatives from the National Assembly, judiciary, states, and local governments, among others.

Oduwole speaking on the scope and areas of interest of PEBEC, mentioned that the council is open to receiving complaints directly from stakeholders across platforms.

He added that the Council in line with fulfilling the mandate of promoting ease of doing business explores measures to work according to international best practices while engaging with Ministries Departments and Agencies.

Oduwole said, “We work with friends of Nigeria, development partners, diplomatic corps and civil society groups. We also work with regulatory bodies that you encounter on a daily basis.

“We listen to complaints from your companies directly or through social media and we look at international best practices and engage with MDAs. We negotiate this: why does it take 10 steps in Nigeria while in Ghana, it takes only three steps and in Singapore, it takes only four minutes? We break down the process and we say what we can do better.”

Oduwole disclosed that since the council collaborates with sub-nationals, states with performance results would have its share of 750 million dollars domiciled with the Federal Government from the World Bank.

The Commissioner for Commerce, Cooperatives, Trade and Investment, Mrs. Folashade Ambrose-Medebem stated, “Here in Lagos, we understand the language of business and what we need to do to get our investors and businesses to where they ought to be. This is why the State still retains its key status as the operational headquarters of many multinationals.”

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She added that the LCA was designed as a public-private engagement where issues affecting the business environment are cohesively presented by the private sector and discussed with the governor, with immediate directives to the MDAs in question for resolution.

“I am glad to note that according to the World Bank’s Subnational Doing Business Report, Lagos State applied and met all criteria to qualify for the first phase of the World Bank funded State Action on Business Enabling Reforms (SABER) programme,” she said.

The commissioner added that the government had implemented key reforms which covered land administration, obtaining development permits, electronic payment of taxes and levies, quick determination and resolution of commercial disputes, among others.

According to her, these and other reforms would also score the State high on the other SABER Result Areas and Disbursement Linked Indicators.

“In recent years, the economy has grown from N27 trillion to N41 trillion naira. This phenomenal growth has been made possible by initiating and implementing deliberate policies and intentional strategies to facilitate the ease of doing business and promote a conducive environment that continues to attract investments into the state.

She revealed that the State is in the process of constituting an Ease of Doing Business Team that would be tasked with interfacing with stakeholders in the business community via a one-stop shop virtual interface.

She noted, “This will be technology-driven to meet the demand of the highly digitised local and global investors community.”

“The virtual one-stop shop interface will be enabled with robust connectivity to strategic global business gateways to enhance access to the State for the global business communities,” she said.

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