Abuja (WorldStage Newsonline)-- The Federal Government of Nigeria has commenced work on a new bill ‘competition, anti-trust and Consumer Protection’ to improve business environment in the country.
While Federal Government has approved the setting up of the Nigerian National Competitiveness Council in line with the recommendation of the World Economic Forum, t he bill, being put together by the National Council on Privatisation (NPC), is in the final process for submission to the Federal Executive Council (FEC).
President Goodluck Jonathan who made the disclosure on Thursday during the 12th meeting of the Honorary International Investor Council (HIIC) at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja, noted that government was aware that, in recent years, the country had been rated very poorly in the reports by the Doing Business Segment of the World Bank Group and the Global Competitiveness Index of the World Economic Forum and the World Investment Report of the United Nations Commission for Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
He further submitted that what these challenging economic reports call for is concerted action by all stakeholders. The essence of having all stakeholders on the same page according to the president was to ensure the transformation of the country's huge potential into developmental realities.
The President disclosed that the focus of his administration “is on removing known bottlenecks in the business environment and making it more investor-friendly.”
He also said that Federal Government had “engaged the services of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) for the development and application of the Nigerian Policy Framework for Investments. We also have in place an After-Care Committee to handle complaints from investors.
“Only recently, I approved the setting up of the Nigerian National Competitiveness Council in line with the recommendation of the World Economic Forum. This Council shall be the focal body responsible for creating awareness on national competitiveness in the country and coordinating the efforts of both the Public and Private Sectors to improve Nigeria’s competitiveness.”
The council was also charged with the responsibility of recommending relevant policies and proactively monitoring and evaluating the progress being made at the national and sub-national levels.
Besides, the President noted that government had embarked on the path of value addition to our raw materials as a way to underpin and expand the manufacturing sector, especially in areas where the country has competitive advantage.
“Our transformation Agenda is, therefore, about turning Nigeria’s huge potential into developmental realities. There is now an increased focus on diversification of our economy away from almost total dependence on oil and attraction of investments into critical sectors,” he said.
“We have commenced a rigorous investment climate reform programme, with the support of key international development partners.”
On the new Visa regime, President Jonathan said, “authentic investors are not only assured of easy processing of visas in their home countries, they can also actually procure same at the point of entry into Nigeria. Business visas can now be obtained for much longer terms.
“To improve Customs efficiency and foster collaboration with relevant government agencies, we are taking measures to modernise the Nigerian Customs Service. We intend to review its underlying legislation; introduce the Single Window concept; and introduce Ports and Customs reforms with emphasis on both trade facilitation and revenue generation.”
He stated that against the backdrop of a global economy that remains vulnerable, Nigeria’s economic growth has remained sturdy at 6.17 per cent for the first quarter, he however assured that government recognise the need to strengthen the economic buffers to deal with a volatile global economic climate.
“These are all efforts aimed at improving the competitive landscape with the understanding that no nation has moved from poverty to wealth by relying solely on exporting raw materials and foodstuff without a vibrant industrial and service sector.”
Other efforts according to the President include the streamlining of the operations at the various ports and upgrading port infrastructure.
“We have reduced the number of agencies operating at the ports and reduced the number of days it takes to process goods from 3 weeks to seven days for the routine imports of large registered importers. We have also introduced the One Stop Check procedure in Customs service and are working on a container management strategy.”
On the issue of security, Jonathan noted that government was building the capacity of the Police and other related agencies to fight crime and defeat terrorism.
“We have also strengthened coordinated joint action between our security agencies and their counterparts abroad.”
The President who also appraised the gathering of his administration's efforts toward tackling the security challenges in the country, said, “the recent overhaul of our security team should herald a fresh approach towards frontally tackling our security challenge in all its ramifications.”
He therefore charged the HIIC on the need to come up with relevant recommendations that will assist the country in addressing her economic challenges.
“Recognising infrastructure as a binding constraint to our competitiveness, we shall welcome specific suggestions that will facilitate the work of the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) and relevant Ministries and Agencies charged to speed up possible concession arrangements with the private sector.
“While I charge members to take practical steps in influencing investment decisions in favour of Nigeria, let me commend the efforts of some Council members, especially Xenel Industries of Saudi Arabia for their commitment to investing in the Petrochemical sector in Koko, Delta State; Mitsubishi Corporation for the joint venture with Notore Industries to set up a $1.5 billion fertilizer plant in Onne, Rivers State; the efforts of CNBC in the communication of Nigeria’s good image and perception; ACTIS’ various investment interests in the country; and of course, our own Dangote Group’s leading role in showcasing the benefits of investing in the Nigerian economy.”