THERE are indications that the Small and Medium Enterprises, SMEs, in Nigeria would be key beneficiaries of the recent executive orders rolled out by the Presidency for ease of doing business in Nigeria. Nigeria’s Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, on May 18, 2017, signed three Executive Orders aimed at facilitating the ease of doing business, essentially to save time and cost, promote transparency and efficiency in the business environment.
The Executive Orders are to: improve the budget process of the country; support implementation of Local Content policy in public procurement and; promote transparency and efficiency in the business environment.
The government believes that the local content policy would drive the growth of local small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and encourage entrepreneurs to engage more effectively in their manufacturing businesses. With the order on transparency and efficiency, government anticipates a better and more transparent business environment for investors and an enabling environment for SMEs and other businesses, thus minimizing bureaucracies and bottlenecks in the system. In his reaction, Timi Olagunju , a lawyer with specialisation in providing training, legal, and business support for startups, noted that the executive orders have implication in reduction in the arbitrary cost of getting things done. He stated: “Recently, we helped a client copyright her technology-based proposal; it took almost forever. Now, with the combined effect of the above executive order, this implies that the Copyright Commission, or the Trademark and Patent Office, would have to state clearly when a patent, copyright, or trademark is supposed to be out. They will also have to publish how much it would cost – no arbitrary fees. This also implies that if they fail to approve or reject your patent, copyright, or trademark within the stipulated time, it is deemed approved after that time. The days when you cannot clearly state when your patent, trademark, or copyright would be out and how much it would cost may be completely over.” An entrepreneur involved in export business, who requested anonymity, acknowledged that developments at the nation’s airports show that the implementation of the Order has ushered a new regime of efficient service delivery. He noted: “For instance, all customised check-in counters used by airlines have been removed at Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos to improve passengers’ profiling and check-in processes in line with globally accepted operational standards, a clear departure from the past.” He also remarked that, if and when fully implemented, the directive to commence a 24-hour operation at the Apapa port will immensely reduce backlog and improve processing and clearing associated with importation of raw materials and machinery at the port. “The challenges associated with clearance and approval delays would be significantly reduced,” he added. President, Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria (AAAN), Mr. Kayode Oluwasona, commended the acting President for taking the action, noting that it would go a long way to facilitate trade and promote indigenous businesses. He said the order on procurement of goods and services will ensure that firms and companies wholly owned by Nigerians have great hope of growing their businesses, adding that the orders are bound to stimulate growth of the local economy.
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