La­gos and the ease of do­ing busi­ness

Business Day (Nigeria) - - PERSPECTIV­E - TAYO OGUNBIYI Ogunbiyi is of the La­gos State Min­istry of In­for­ma­tion & Strat­egy, Alausa, Ikeja

La­gos State is unique in many ways. It is the sixth largest city in the world and the most pop­u­lous State in the coun­try. It is also the lead­ing non-oil sec­tor con­trib­u­tor to the coun­try’s Gross Do­mes­tic prod­uct (GDP). It con­trib­utes more than 30per­cent of the na­tion’s GDP, con­sumes more than 60per­cent of its en­ergy, pays 65per­cent of its value Added Tax (VAT), and ac­counts for 90per­cent of Nige­ria’s for­eign trade and 70per­cent of all in­dus­trial in­vest­ments.

With three lighter ter­mi­nals and two ports, La­gos gen­er­ates 50per­cent of Nige­ria’s port rev­enue while the Mur­tala Mo­hammed Air­port, Ikeja, La­gos, is the ma­jor hub for avi­a­tion within West Africa, and be­tween the re­gion and Eu­rope.

La­gos is equally the coun­try’s fi­nan­cial, com­mer­cial and in­dus­trial nerve cen­tre, with over 2,000 man­u­fac­tur­ing in­dus­tries and over 200 fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions.

The State alone har­bours about 60 per cent of the Fed­er­a­tion’s to­tal in­dus­trial in­vest­ments and for­eign trade, while also at­tract­ing 65 per­cent of Nige­ria’s com­mer­cial ac­tiv­i­ties.

Cur­rently, the State gov­ern­ment’s ex­pen­di­ture fo­cuses on de­vel­op­ing in­fra­struc­ture. Waste man­age­ment is also ex­pe­ri­enc­ing im­prove­ment while the pub­lic trans­port sys­tem is be­ing re-en­gi­neered.

Im­proved gov­ern­ment fi­nan­cial con­trol and other steps to cre­ate a favourable cli­mate for in­vest­ment have seen con­fi­dence grow in La­gos as a des­ti­na­tion for in­vestors.

Re­cently, the gov­ern­ment signed the $629 mil­lion fi­nanc­ing fa­cil­ity aimed at com­plet­ing the Lekki Deep Sea Port with China Har­bour Engi­neer­ing Com­pany (CHEC), thus re­flect­ing the plan to ex­plore in­vest­ments and part­ner­ships that would ac­cel­er­ate growth and ben­e­fit res­i­dents of the State.

It is this strong be­lief in the pri­vate sec­tor that pro­pels the gov­ern­ment’s col­lab­o­ra­tion with the OPS in var­i­ous vi­tal ar­eas of the T.H.E.M.E.S. Agenda of the Sanwo

Olu Ad­min­is­tra­tion’s devel­op­ment strat­egy. The gov­ern­ment reg­u­larly meets with the busi­ness com­mu­nity to dis­cuss is­sues of mu­tual in­ter­est. The last of such was held last July.

In the last 12 years, through the La­gos State Se­cu­rity Trust Fund (LSSTF), the OPS and the gov­ern­ment have been bat­tling to put in place a seam­less se­cu­rity plan with the aim of cre­at­ing a con­ducive en­vi­ron­ment for eco­nomic un­der­tak­ings. The suc­cess of this novel model has made other States repli­cate same.

In or­der to pro­tect busi­nesses, the im­ple­men­ta­tion of ad­di­tional re­liefs and mea­sures to fur­ther ease the im­pact of the COVID-19 pan­demic on tax­pay­ers and busi­nesses have be­gun.

These in­cen­tives are se­quel to the ini­tial 3-month ex­ten­sion of the dead­line for fil­ing of an­nual re­turns (from March 31 to June 30, 2020). Also, tax­pay­ers are to en­joy a waiver of penalty for late pay­ment of li­a­bil­i­ties un­der PAYE (Pay As You Earn) that was due dur­ing the pe­riod of March-may, 2020 when the State was un­der COVID-19 lock­down.

The 2018 Land Use Charge (LUC) Law was re­viewed to bring a huge re­lief to all, in­clud­ing cor­po­rate or­gan­i­sa­tions. The penal­ties for 2017, 2018 and 2019 have been waived. This trans­lates to over N5 bil­lion po­ten­tial rev­enue loss for the gov­ern­ment.

There is also 48per­cent re­duc­tion in the An­nual Charge Rates, just as the an­nual rate for Agri­cul­tural land has been re­duced from 0.076per­cent to 0.01per­cent, which rep­re­sents an 87per­cent re­duc­tion from the old rate.

On power sup­ply, in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the pri­vate sec­tor, the State gov­ern­ment has, in the last 12 years, built 13 In­de­pen­dent Power Plants (IPPS) across the State. In fur­ther­ance of this, the gov­ern­ment has un­veiled a Smart Meter Ini­tia­tive tagged “The La­gos Smart Meter Hackathon 2020”.

In re­spect of is­suance of C of Os, La­gos is the first to be­gin an au­to­ma­tion pro­cess of the pro­cess in 2001 and the pro­ce­dure is get­ting faster by the day. On May 29th, 2020, the gov­ern­ment pub­lished over a thou­sand C-of-os that were ready for col­lec­tion, the high­est fig­ure ever at a go. Thanks to the ef­fec­tive­ness of the e-pro­cess.

The var­i­ous com­mit­ments of the gov­ern­ment to­wards en­sur­ing a safe haven for in­vestors is al­ready pay­ing off. In the last one year, the State has at­tracted the sum of $192.10mil­lion in For­eign Di­rect In­vest­ment (FDI).

Also, bu­reau­cratic pro­cesses in busi­ness reg­is­tra­tion have been re­duced. By the same to­ken, pro­cess­ing of rel­e­vant con­struc­tion per­mits is now faster and bet­ter. In terms of en­forc­ing con­tracts, lit­i­ga­tion time has also re­duced dras­ti­cally.

There is also re­duc­tion in in­ci­dence of loss of files as data are now kept and trans­ferred elec­tron­i­cally. Equally, the time frame for prop­erty reg­is­tra­tion has been rad­i­cally re­duced while more land is now avail­able for in­vestors.

No doubt, La­gos is the prime in­vest­ment des­ti­na­tion in West Africa. The State, to­gether with Kano, is re­spon­si­ble for the coun­try’s jump to 131 from 146 in the 2020 World Bank Ease of Do­ing Busi­ness (EDOB) Re­port. The State was pre­sented with the Pres­i­den­tial En­abling Busi­ness En­vi­ron­ment Coun­cil (PEBEC) Award on EODB in recog­ni­tion of its per­for­mance at the 2018 EODB Sub-na­tional Rank­ing, in Abuja by the Vi­cePres­i­dent, Pro­fes­sor Yemi Os­in­bajo.

Un­doubt­edly, La­gos is ready for busi­ness and things can only get bet­ter.

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