No nation prospers economically without good, well-run businesses. When the process of establishing and running a business is easy, more people, be they Nationals or foreigners, are encouraged to start their businesses in the nation. This could bring about prosperity, create more employment, generate tax for the government as well giving birth to more entrepreneurs.
The ease of doing business in Nigeria over the years has improved, thanks to the push by PEBEC and other agencies set for that purpose. To further strengthen and consolidate on the improvements the Business Facilitation Act was passed by both houses and it got Presidential assent in February 2023. The Act made an effort to create a more transparent environment for entrepreneurs to do business in Nigeria.
The Act’s long title states, “An Act to provide for the ease of doing business, ensure transparency, efficiency and productivity in Nigeria and for related matters.”
With that in mind, here are the salient features of the Act you should take note of.
- The Act promoted ease of doing business in Nigeria and eliminates bottlenecks.
- The Act makes it mandatory for government organizations [Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs)] to be transparent. To achieve this, the law mandates MDAs to publish a complete list of requirements to obtain products and services from them.
- Create a provision for default approval. This provision is to ensure that MDAs are efficient. Here is how it works, if you apply for a product or service and the ministry, department or agencies fail to communicate approval or rejection to you within the stipulated time in the publication of the MDA requesting you to apply. Your application is deemed approved.
- The law mandates MDAs to collaborate among themselves to process and deliver products and services to the public.
- It mandated MDAs to create a service level agreement which shall provide for;
i. the list of products and services it renders.
ii. documents required.
iii. processing timeline.
iv. applicable fees.
v. processing timeline.
vi. Summary of procedure for application.
vii. redress mechanisms etc.
- Provides for smoother operations in ports.
- The act mandates automation of the company registration process. Gladly this is largely in place.
Apart from the above provisions the Act equally amended certain provisions of 21 Acts of the National Assembly. The consequential amendment of the various laws is in a bid towards ensuring more efficiency. The Acts whose provisions in them where are amended are;
- The Companies and Allied Matters Act, 2020
- Nigerian Export Promotion Council Act,
- Custom and Excise Management Act,
- Export (Prohibition) Act,
- Financial Reporting Council Act,
- Foreign Exchange (Monitoring and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act,
- Immigration Act.
- Industrial Inspectorate Act,
- Industrial Training Fund Act,
- Investment and Securities Act,
- National Housing Fund Act,
- National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion Act,
- National Planning Commission Act,
- Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission Act,
- Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development Act,
- Nigerian Ports Authority Act,
- Patents and Design Act,
- Pension Reform Act,
- Standard Organisation of Nigeria Act,
- Trade Marks Act.
Additional subsections of Section 20 of the Immigration Act provide,
“(8) Entry visas to Nigeria shall be issued or rejected with reason within 48 hours of receipt of valid applications. (9) A comprehensive and up-to-date list of requirements, conditions and procedures for obtaining visa on arrival as well as all other entry visas, including the estimated timeframe, shall be published on all immigration-related websites, Embassies, and High Commissions, and all Nigerian ports of entry.”
The enactment of the Business Facilitation Act is highly commendable as it hopes to ensure that it becomes easier to operate a business in Nigeria. More importantly, Nigerians must continue to demand better service delivery and insist on their rights.
My name is Prosper Ambaka, Esq. Feel free to connect and I am open for business.