In­fra­struc­ture deficit jeop­ar­dises ease of do­ing busi­ness

The Guardian (Nigeria) - - BUSINESS - By Su­lai­mon Salau

THE Chair­man, Sea­port Ter­mi­nal Op­er­a­tors As­so­ci­a­tion of Nige­ria (STOAN), Princess Vicky Haas­trup has said that Nige­ria will con­tinue to rank poorly on the global Ease of Do­ing Busi­ness In­dex un­til crit­i­cal in­fras­truc­tural deficits are ad­dressed by govern­ment.

Haas­trup, at an in­dus­try event, said most of the subindices used by the World Bank to mea­sure the Ease of Do­ing Busi­ness in 190 coun­tries of the world are still beg­ging for govern­ment at­ten­tion in the coun­try.

While com­mend­ing the present govern­ment for its de­ter­mi­na­tion to im­prove on the coun­try’s Ease of Do­ing Busi­ness In­dex, she said the in­fras­truc­tural gap be­devilng the coun­try can be ad­dressed within a medium-term frame­work if govern­ment so de­sires.

She said: “The Ease of Do­ing Busi­ness rank­ing of a coun­try is based on 10 subindices which in­clude start­ing a busi­ness; deal­ing with con­struc­tion per­mits; get- ting elec­tric­ity; reg­is­ter­ing prop­erty; and get­ting credit.

“Others are pro­tect­ing in­vestors; pay­ing taxes; trad­ing across bor­ders; en­forc­ing con­tracts; and re­solv­ing in­sol­vency.

“A cur­sory ap­praisal of Nige­ria’s op­er­at­ing en­vi­ron­ment re­veals a yawn­ing gap in some of the sub-in­d­ces. On get­ting elec­tric­ity and the cost of elec­tric­ity; we are just not there at all. I am sure every Nige­rian can talk ex­ten­sively on this. It should con­cern any well-mean­ing Nige­rian that we still face this huge prob­lem al­most two decades into the 21st Cen­tury.

“In Nige­ria to­day, the cost of gen­er­at­ing elec­tric­ity through gen­er­a­tors is killing busi­nesses. The gen­er­a­tors we use are also sources of ma­jor en­vi­ron­men­tal and noise pol­lu­tion. On get­ting credit; this is still a ma­jor chal­lenge es­pe­cially for small busi­nesses; and for those busi­nesses that are able to ac­cess cred­its, the cost of bor­row­ing is high.

“On pay­ing taxes; I think many busi­nesses in Nige­ria are still suf­fer­ing from mul­ti­ple tax­a­tion. On trad­ing across bor­ders; our cargo clear­ing pro­cesses are still prim­i­tive. Cus­toms checks are du­pli­cated, man­ual and too la­bo­ri­ous. There are also too many govern­ment agen­cies in­volved in cargo ex­am­i­na­tion at the port and land bor­der posts. All of these slow down trade and add to the cost of do­ing busi­ness.

“On en­forc­ing con­tracts; we must note that no in­vestor will bring their money to the ta­ble un­til we be­gin to re­spect the sanc­tity of con­tracts.”

Princess Haas­trup said Nige­ria is a coun­try with enor­mous hu­man and ma­te­rial re­sources with a youth­ful and teem­ing pop­u­la­tion of over 180 mil­lion, “which is a huge mar­ket beck­on­ing on dis­cern­ing in­vestors”. “Un­der the right lead­er­ship, the eco­nomic suc­cesses recorded by a coun­try like Sin­ga­pore will fade in sig­nif­i­cance in com­par­i­son to ours. Un­em­ploy­ment and poverty will be­long to our past if we cre­ate the right en­vi­ron­ment for busi­nesses to thrive. The way to make cre­ate the right en­vi­ron­ment is to ad­dress the lim­it­ing fac­tors high­lighted ear­lier,” she added.

PHOTO: SUN­DAY AKINLOLU

Act­ing Di­rec­tor Gen­eral, In­fra­struc­ture Con­ces­sion Reg­u­la­tory Com­mis­sion (ICRC), Chidi Izuwah (left); Asst. Gen­eral Man­ager (New Busi­ness Devel­op­ment, PPP), Nige­rian Port Au­thor­ity, Ms. Nana Yakubu; Le­gal Coun­sel/re­la­tion­ship Di­rec­tor, Lekki Port LFTZ En­ter­prise (LPLE), Mrs. Adesuwa Ladoja and Gen­eral Man­ager (Projects), Lekki Port LFTZ En­ter­prise (LPLE), Steven Heukelom dur­ing the visit by the ICRC man­age­ment to Lekki Deep Sea Port in Lagos.

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