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PwC survey scores Osinbajo-led PEBEC low

...cites corruption, duplicity of functions, poor service orientation

A Cost of Compliance survey conducted by the PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) has revealed persistent corruption, duplicity of functions, poor service orientation, and several anti-business dispositions in some regulatory agencies of government.

The report, on the basis of these findings, scored the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo-led Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) low.

Reacting to the report which was presented to the Council at its first virtual meeting of the year, Vice President Osinbajo, who presided over the meeting, directed that CEOs and heads of such government regulatory agencies involved be presented with the outcomes.

The Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) was inaugurated in July 2016 as the administration’s flagship initiative to reform the business environment, attract investment and diversify the economy to reduce the nation’s reliance on oil.

The initiative came on the background of the importance of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), which account for more than 90 percent of all registered businesses in Nigeria, providing 84 percent of jobs, many of which were constantly affected by high level official corruption.

The federal government first launched the 60-day National Action Plan (NAP- 60) in February 2017 and followed it up with the Executive Order 001, that also laid out new standards of practice, with a focus on delivering immediate improvement in seven of the key indicators on the World Bank’s Doing Business indicators, including Starting a Business, Getting Credit and Trading Across Borders, as well as one homegrown indicator, Entry and Exit of People.

The reforms had focused on automation of services to eliminate manual procedures and promote online procedures, reducing the cost and time for certain processes to be completed, reducing paperwork and increasing transparency.

Vice President Osinbajo, after receiving the report, ordered that interaction should take place regarding some of the worrying disclosures therein.

Osinbajo also disclosed that the report will form the basis for reforms as part of a renewed attempt at further deepening the reforms of the nation’s business environment.

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He said the report “revealed human issues that are not unavoidable”, stressing the important roles regulatory agencies play in ensuring businesses are able to thrive seamlessly.

The vice president noted that doing otherwise would only jeopardise the government’s efforts in creating a conducive business environment.

“If the environment on account of regulatory authorities is so difficult or expensive, such that people are discouraged or it doesn’t make sense for people to do business, then we are shooting ourselves in the foot in a manner we can only blame ourselves. These are human issues and we must do something very serious about these issues,” Osinbajo said.

Speaking further about holding those responsible for the major lapses to account, he said he was in full support of holding CEOs to account because they, in turn, must hold their staff to account.

“If there is systemic corruption, bribery and extortion, and nobody is held to account, there is a problem,” he said.

According to Osinbajo, the plans of the Federal Government in growing the economy and changing the lives and livelihood of Nigerians for the better are largely dependent on the business environment in which they operate.

“Every one of our plans around sustaining economic growth, improving job creation and opportunities, whatever it is that we plan to do to make life better for the citizens, depends entirely on the environment in which people have to do business.

“It determines whether they will invest their resources, expand their businesses, and it just determines practically everything,” he said.

Others present at the PEBEC meeting include the Ministers of Industry, Trade and Investment; Finance, Budget and National Planning; Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi; Information; Interior; Budget and National Planning (State); Special Adviser on Ease of Doing Business, among others.

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