VP Osinbajo warns regulatory agencies against stifling business growth

Cyril Okonkwo, Abuja

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Nigeria’s Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo has cautioned regulatory agencies against putting impediments on businesses in the country, urging them to review their methods of regulating micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

Osinbajo stated this on Monday in Abuja at the Inauguration of the Convention Centre of the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI).

Insisting that the work of regulatory agencies should be focused more on facilitating the growth of businesses, he said: “We need to take a second look at how we regulate small businesses.”

According to him, the three trends that, at least, would determine Nigeria’s economic development are government policy, private sector investment and micro, small and medium enterprises, MSMEs.

Osinbajo said: “With respect to government policy; of course, you are aware that the government position is that we must continue on an incremental basis to prescribe for ourselves and to provide for ourselves a properly enabling business environment in every respect, which is why we have PEBEC (Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council), which focuses on trying to improve the business environment. 

“But I think that one of the drawbacks that we have had in improving the business environment is really with respect to how we regulate small businesses.” 

Citing the Federal Capital Territory as an example, the vice president pointed out that numerous problems small businesses encounter, which hinder their growth.

But Abuja is just one example of how generally speaking all over the country we need to take a second look at how we regulate small businesses,” he stated.

Prof. Osinbajo said that part of government policy towards incentivizing the growth of the private sector and making them contribute to economic growth is through reducing corporate taxes.

“As part of government policy, we have already more or less removed most of the major taxes. 

“So, for corporation taxes, if your turnover is under N25 million, is zero; and we have reduced it incrementally all the way up. 

“So, with respect to corporation taxes, at least, we know that we are doing quite well.  And same if you look at the proposed finance bill there are several incentives for small businesses. 

“But I think as they say the devil is in the details, we have to find ways.  And I think this is where the private sector must work very actively with us in ensuring that we are self-regulators and policemen and women of the regulations.

“I think the time has come for us to have the chamber of commerce paying very active attention to all that is going on in the MSMEs especially with respect to regulation.”

Way forward

The vice president said it has become necessary to check government officials whose activities stymie business growth.

 “We must call out government officials who are making it difficult for people to do business.  This is important because if you recall, the president himself said that there is no way the private sector can thrive if government officials see themselves as roadblocks; see themselves as hindrances as opposed to facilitators. 

“Every government regulator must be a facilitator of business.  That is the way forward.  We cannot afford a situation where government regulators see themselves as policemen only.  They must be facilitators of business.” 

He encouraged the ACCI to play a greater role in the PEBEC, saying that it was necessary to create a model in Nigeria’s capital that would be extended to other states in the country.

In his remarks, Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Niyi Adebayo, assured the ACCI of government’s support in its effort to grow businesses in Nigeria.

Earlier, the President of the ACCI, Adetokunbo Kayode, commended government’s support for MSMEs in Nigeria.

While appealing to the vice president to use his position as Chairman of the National Economic Council, NEC to give a fillip to small businesses, Kayode called on Nigerian governors to endeavour to attend the meetings of the council regularly as crucial matters bordering on the economy always come out from there.

He said that the ACCI Convention Centre would promote business, trade and economy of Nigeria and create opportunities for the youth.

Kayode expressed hope that it would not take Nigeria long before it exits the current recession.

Suzan O