The Presidential Ease of Doing Business panel has reduced the number of days required for registration of new businesses in Nigeria from 10 to two days.
The panel also approved 24-hour timeline for company registration from when application form was completed and all required documents made available.
Those were among highlights of a report presented at a Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC), on Monday at the Presidential Villa.
The report was presented by Jumoke Oduwole, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Trade and Investment and came as reforms targeting the end of the 60-day Action Plan on Ease of Doing Business in Nigeria.
According to the recommendations, 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.
Also it is now optional for SMEs to hire lawyers to prepare registration documents for companies.
The Council, established by President Muhammadu Buhari, is chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
However, Monday’s meeting was chaired by Transportation Minister, Rotimi Amaechi, as the Vice President was busy with the work of the Presidential Investigative Panel set up for two top government officials.
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 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 just 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 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 were being closely monitored to ensure diligent implementation with minimal disruption while pending reforms were 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 emphasised that with the conclusion of implementation of the Action Plan, it would move into the next phase.
That 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 begin “sub-national reforms across Nigeria’s 36 states; trading within Nigeria; initiatives and reforms improving business processes and regulations within Nigeria; and ease of movement of goods within and across regions in Nigeria.”
Ministers at the meeting included Foreign Affairs Ministers Geoffrey Onyeama, Minister of State for Industry Trade and Investment Aisha Abubakar, and her counterpart in Budget and National Planning Zainab Ahmed.
Other government functionaries at the meeting included the Head of Service, Winifred Oyo-Ita, and several heads of MDAs.