Nigeria’s World Bank Ease Of Doing Business Rating: Regulators, Worst Offenders | Independent Newspapers Limited
Newsletter subscribe


Nigeria’s World Bank Ease Of Doing Business Rating: Regulators, Worst Offenders

stumbling blocks
Posted: Jun 14, 2016 at 6:40 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

Nkasiobi Oluikpe


Lagos – That government is making efforts at various levels to ensure that the business environment in the country is viable for investment is not in question. What many have come to question is the activities of regulators of the various agencies of government.

These agencies according to critics, rather than complementing the efforts of government are working at variance with the policies of government to satisfy their selfish intents and purpose, thereby making nonsense of the strategies put in place by government for businesses to thrive.

Like the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah once stated that the only true measure of the impact of government policies will not be seen in the eloquence of their plans, or the enthusiasm with which they reiterate them, but in the lives and stories of the country’s entrepreneurs, traders, business owners and intending and existing domestic and foreign investors.

However, if the true measure of the impact of government is as stated above, feelers from the entrepreneurs has it that the government still has a long way to go.

One of the first steps at starting a business, if its to be legally recognized, is by registering the business name with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), at least for the SMEs. However, there are complaints by entrepreneurs and business owners that the CAC is one of the bottlenecks to ease of doing business in the country.

According to Christian Nwogwugwu, he doesn’t see anything stopping them from processing the whole thing in one day, but because of the normal civil service mentality, whereby everybody wants to show how important he or she is, the process will linger, for no just cause. “And if you as their client proves stubborn and refuses to play ball by dipping your hands into your pocket to settle at different tables, woe betide you. I travelled to Abuja to get a business registered, for one week, I was still there. Its really a pathetic situation. And if you decide to go through a notary public, that’s another kettle of fish.”

This is just one, out of the legions of complaints against the CAC. Probably aware of the complaints, the CAC of recent claimed to now have an online one-stop-shop, where clients can log in and transact businesses with them. The publicity given to this one-stop-shop, at a recent forum was so deafening that a representative of Knight Frank stood up to challenge the authenticity of the claim.

He made it clear that they are all a bunch of lies as no single individual has ever been able to register anything online with the CAC. Another lady lawyer, not only substantiated his claims, but also narrated her experience at getting a certificate of incorporation for some clients. According to the lady, at a point, she was asked to re-produce the documents she had initially over six months filed with the commission. The CAC officials at the forum, were not able to defend the claims.

Dr. Wilson Christon, founder and chairman of US based King Solomon Capital Empire, came to Nigeria to invest recently. His focus was providing funding for small businesses. Irrespective of the prospects he sees in the country, he was put off at the office of the CAC.

Hear him: “Nigeria provides the highest returns on investment than any other country in the world, but things had to be done rightly, from registration of that business to the absolute setting up of that company, things had to be a little simplified. What I came to realize is that it takes like three weeks or two months to have a certificate of incorporation of a business. That is far too long. It should not take more than one hour, if you apply technology. In America you go to the business registration office, the machine technology is there. You just put in your corporate name, it searches through if nobody has owned that name. You just go to the counter and they give you the certificate. All the time it takes to register a company here in Nigeria, a lot of other things could have been done.”

Besides the CAC, the nuisance constituted by the tax office is another headache. According to a member of the built environment, to even say that you are a registered company in Nigeria today is an offence. They will be bombarding your office as if they have a mission to bring you down. A Chinese confectionary outfit on Wempco, Road, Ogba, Lagos, that recently closed shop pointed to the officials of the tax office as one of the major reasons why they had to call it quits. According to an insider, even though the economic situation in the country has not helped matters as the cost of overheads have spiraled, however, the activities of tax officials in the state cannot allow any business to thrive.

Now, stakeholders are asking the government to look inwards and find ways of overhauling its agencies and department if they must make a headway in the present downturn; without which, the country will only be moving in circles; and making a mockery of themselves before the comity of nations.