• Wednesday, May 22, 2024
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Stakeholders say regulatory pressure choking MSMEs


The business community has said that pressure from regulatory agencies is stifling the growth of micro, small and medium scale enterprises (MSMEs) in Nigeria. They add that overlapping functions of these agencies at both federal and state levels often result in endless intimidation, time wasting as well as high operational costs to business owners who are merely struggling to survive in a tough environment.

Remi Bello, president, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), singled out agencies whose overlapping functions pile heavy pressure on businesses.

According to Bello, the overlapping functions of the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) and the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) in industrial sectors like cosmetics, food and drinks, beverages, health and confectionery, do not bode well for business owners, as product inspection reports by the former are often rejected by the latter and verse versa, given that each prefers to carry out independent analysis  for the same product, with attendant costs.

He also pointed out that  the SON and the Consumer Protection Council (CPC)’s roles clash, as business owners lament that the demand for compulsory product listing with the CPC, which also comes with huge annual costs, is an unnecessary burden that needs to be lifted off the shoulders of business owners.

“In terms of SON and Weight and Measures Unit,  SON normally does the calibration of equipment through their meteorology department. Weight and Measures does the verification to ascertain if the equipment is calibrated,” Bello said in Lagos, during a recent economic review.

“After the verification exercise and it is established that the equipment are calibrated, Weight and Measures Unit still imposes outrageous charges on industries,” he stressed.

On his part, Muda Yusuf, director-general, LCCI, said registration of businesses at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), has become a nightmare for businesses in recent times, thus frustrating business owners and prospective investors.

Yusuf said rather than live up to the high expectations of better service delivery promised few months ago, the quality of service at the CAC has deteriorated, stressing that the promised 24 hours is a mirage as business incorporation now takes well over one week in most cases. 

The chamber said a major component of the ‘Ease of Doing Business Report’ of the World Bank is the ease of business registration, urging that the country’s poor performance on this score is not satisfactory, thus calling on the management of the CAC to urgently fix these shortcomings to realise the dream of making the country a leading investment destination in Africa.

Earlier, Goodie Ibru, immediate past president of the chamber pointed out that businesses are already burdened by poor electricity supply and access roads, insecurity, lack of access to affordable credit and multiple taxation, stating that activities of regulatory agencies have the capacity to overburden operators whose activities are critical to economic development of the country.

“We conducted a survey on the activities of some public regulatory agencies including NAFDAC. It was discovered that businesses are increasingly at the receiving end, mostly in the following areas: delay in registration and certification of products, multiplicity and arbitrary charges, frequency of visits that come with costs to the companies, overlap of functions with other agencies, excessive human interface in operational framework and collection of excessive quantity of products supposedly as samples,” Ibru said.