The number of days required for registration of new businesses in Nigeria has been reduced from 10 to two courtesy of the reform agenda of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.
There is also a 24-hour timeline for company registration from when application form is completed and all required documents made available.
Also, prospective business owners can now search on Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) portal (www.cac.gov.ng) to avoid duplication of names and prevent selection of prohibited names, while company registration no longer requires lawyers as it is now optional for SMEs to hire lawyers to prepare registration documents.
These were among highlights of a report presented at the meeting of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council, PEBEC, on Monday at the Presidential Villa, marking the end of the 60-day Action Plan on Ease of Doing Business in Nigeria reforms.
The Council, established by President Muhammadu Buhari, is chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
But Monday’s meeting was chaired by Minister of Transport and Aviation, Rotimi Amaechi, one of the several federal ministers who are members of the PEBEC as the Vice President was busy with the work of the Presidential Investigative Panel.
Other Ministers at the meeting included Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama; Minister of State for Industry Trade & Investment, Aisha Abubakar; and her counterpart in Budget & National Planning Zainab Ahmed.
Other government officials at the meeting included the Head of Service, Mrs Winifred Oyo-Ita, and several heads of Ministeries, Departments and Agencies. .
The report was presented by Dr. Jumoke Oduwole, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Trade & Investment.
According to the report, CAC has introduced single incorporation form (CAC1.1) to save time and reduce costs while the agency has introduced document upload interface on its website to enable e-submission of registration documents.
Other aspects of the reforms now actualized in the last 60 days include the Integrated FIRS e-payment solution into CAC portal to enable e-stamping while the reform empowers CAC internal lawyers to certify company incorporation forms and conduct statutory declaration of compliance for a fixed fee of N500.
According to the report, the PEBEC listed “Dealing with construction permits, Getting electricity, Registering Property, Getting Credit and Paying Taxes,” as some of the areas where the council has recorded progress in the past 60 days.
The report also highlighted the completed reforms on the “Entry and Exit of People,” indicator which includes Simplified Visa-on-Arrival process, Infrastructural improvements at the Abuja airport, and the new Immigration Regulation 2017.
It also indicated that the completed reforms are being closely monitored to ensure diligent implementation with minimal disruption while pending reforms are being escalated to ensure completion in the coming weeks.
On Trading across Borders, some of the completed reforms include palletisation of imports, advanced cargo manifests, reduction in documentation requirements and scheduling of Joint Physical Examination by the Customs Service.
The National Action Plan contained initiatives and actions implemented by responsible Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), the National Assembly, a number of State Governments, as well as some private sector stakeholders.
The Council emphasized that with the conclusion of implementation of the Action Plan, the next phase would involve “deepening existing reforms; completing and implementing pending initiatives; engaging with the public; validating completed reforms and kicking-off medium-term reforms.”
The Council would also kick-start “sub-national reforms across Nigeria’s 36 states; trading within Nigeria; kick-off of initiatives and reforms improving business processes and regulations within Nigeria; and ease of movement of goods within and across regions in Nigeria.”
70% of Action Plan met
Speaking to State House Correspondents after the meeting, Amaechi said the meeting looked at 22 reform items set in the 60-day Action Plan, stating that 70% of the initiative has been met.
“We looked at the 22 reform items and we met 70% of them,” Amaechi said, explaining that the remaining 30% would be met before June.
He said the committee would look at operations of the CAC, land registry in states that are being used as pilot.
He said the rehabilitation of the runway of the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport has also helped businesses in Nigeria.