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Economy, Government, LIFE STYLE

In a renewed attempt at further deepening the reforms of the nation’s business environment, the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC), has resolved that CEOs and Heads of some Federal Government regulatory agencies be presented with the outcome of a recent survey that exposes major pitfalls in the operations of the agencies.

The Cost of Compliance Report which was presented to the Council at its first virtual meeting of the year on Tuesday revealed persistent corruption, duplicity of functions, poor service orientation, and several anti-business disposition in some of the regulatory agencies.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, who presided over the meeting directed that CEOs and heads of such government regulatory agencies involved should be presented with the outcomes and interaction should take place regarding some of the worrying disclosures in the report of the survey conducted by Pricewaterhouse Coopers, PwC.

Prof Osinbajo who said the report revealed human issues that are not unavoidable, stressed the important roles regulatory agencies play in ensuring businesses are able to thrive seamlessly without inhibition. He noted that doing otherwise would only jeopardize the government’s efforts in creating a conducive business environment.

He stated that “if the environment on account of regulatory authorities is so difficult or expensive, such that people are discouraged or it doesn’t make sense for people to do business, then we are shooting ourselves in the foot in a manner we can only blame ourselves. These are human issues and we must do something very serious about these issues.”

Speaking further about holding those responsible for the major lapses to account, the Vice President said, “I am in full support of holding our CEOs to account because they, in turn, must hold their staff to account. If there is systemic corruption, bribery and extortion, and nobody is held to account, there is a problem.”

According to Prof Osinbajo, the plans of the Federal Government in growing the economy and changing the lives and livelihood of Nigerians for the better is largely dependent on the business environment in which they operate.

“Every one of our plans around sustaining economic growth, improving job creation and opportunities, whatever it is that we plan to do to make life better for the citizens, depends entirely on the environment in which people have to do business.

“It determines whether they will invest their resources, expand their businesses, and it just determines practically everything.”

Others present at the PEBEC meeting yesterday include the Ministers of Industry Trade and Investment, Otunba Niyi Adebayo, the Vice Chairman of PEBEC; Finance, Budget and National Planning, Hajiya Zainab Ahmed; Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi; Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed; Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola; Budget and National Planning (State), Clem Abga; Special Adviser on Ease of Doing Business, Dr. Jumoke Oduwole, and Senator Aishatu Dahiru Ahmed, representing the National Assembly among other top government officials and representatives from PwC.

Members of PEBEC also condoled with Dr. Oduwole on the death of her father, former Vice-Chancellor of the Lagos State University, Prof. Afolabi Olumide who passed away recently. Otunba Adebayo who spoke on behalf of PEBEC prayed that God will grant the Council Secretary and the entire family the fortitude to bear the loss.

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Government

President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, on Tuesday lauded the efforts of the armed forces in restoring security to parts of Nigeria, saying that the spate of insecurity across states is gradually being reversed.

Lawan stated this when he received a delegation from Adamawa state who paid him a visit in appreciation to the National Assembly for converting the Modibbo Adama University, Yola, into a conventional University that can run medical programmes alongside social and management sciences.

The delegation was led by Senator Aishatu Dahiru Ahmed and the Vice Chancellor of the University, Abdullahi Lima Tukur.

Lawan in his welcome speech said the conversion of the university was the outcome of a collaborative effort between the legislature and the executive arms of government.

According to the Senate President, the ninth National Assembly would be judged fairly by Nigerians for its pro-people legislations in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic which slowed the country’s pace of development.

“I will take this opportunity to commend Mr. President for assenting to that bill. This is what we call cooperative governance. We work with the Executive to ensure that the Nigerian people benefit from democracy.

“We have set our eyes on our target of making Nigeria better and making Nigerians safer. What matters to us is what we are able to achieve at the end of the day.

“History will judge us very very fairly, and without sounding immodest, I’ll like to take this opportunity to congratulate the ninth National Assembly.

“The ninth National Assembly has achieved so much between 2019 till date for the benefit of this country despite the pandemic, and the secret is unity and harmony.

“We have achieved unity amongst ourselves in the National Assembly environment between the Senate and the House; and of course, we have achieved harmony in work between the National Assembly and the Executive, and that’s the essence of governance, anyway.

“When we disagree, we will do so, but if we have no reason to disagree, we will not do that because we want to please anybody,” he said.

Speaking on the security and economic challenges faced by Nigeria, the Senate President said recent developments showed an improvement in efforts made by the armed forces towards addressing the spate of insecurity in parts of the country.

“Those of us in position of leadership today are probably more challenged than any set of leaders. We need to pray, but we also need to act, work hard and apply ourselves fully and work committedly to ensure that we serve Nigerians.

“Nothing is impossible, this situation of insecurity gradually is being reversed. I am particularly happy with recent developments by our armed forces. They are doing better than they were doing before.

“I’m sure that the economy will also start to improve, and we will get out of recession that we entered last month.

“With the implementation of the capital budget 2020 up till the end of March, and of course, the start of the implementation of the 2021 budget, the economy will receive a boost,” the Senate President added.

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Finance, SME

At present, there are over 86,000 banking agents across 772 out of the 774 local government areas in Nigeria, a demonstration of FirstBank’s commitment to deepening financial inclusion and ensuring the unbanked are adequately catered for. In an interview with BusinessDay, Adesola Adeduntan, FirstBank’s CEO, noted that over N9.6 trillion had been processed through the bank’s agent network.

As he explained, FirstMonie agents have supported several government and NGOs’ cash transfers to the poorest of the poor in the rural areas. Additionally, selected FirstMonie agents in the rural communities are equipped with BVN enrolment devices; as such they are able to enrol and open accounts for rural dwellers that hitherto may not have had the opportunity to be included in the formal financial services system.

The bank’s commitment to providing access to finance for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) was also highlighted by the CEO, who hinged this on “their potential to impact the economy”.

He discussed the bank’s value adding solutions that have created a functional ecosystem for SMEs to thrive. The ecosystem includes propositions such as connection of the SMEs to talents and resources/cutting edge tools, access to business finance and market, capacity building opportunities and policy advocacy.

These are all aggregated on its SMEConnect platform as value adding products and services for easy access and at rates (prices) that are competitive and mostly discounted. The SMEConnect is a digital platform that allows the SMEs connect to FirstBank’s offerings from the comfort of their locations anywhere in the world.

This, according to Adeduntan, has been well received by the SME community as we engage across the country.

 

Culled from BusinessDay

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