The Nigerian senate has in a new report, outlined major legislative decisions which it projects will over a five year period, lead to an average annual growth in jobs estimated at 7.55 million, an average of 16.42 percent reduction in Nigeria’s poverty rate, adding an average of N3.76 Trillion to national disposable incomes, equivalent to 4.39 percent of 2014 figures which was N85.62 trillion.
By the Senate’s reckoning in the report titled; Reviving The Economy, Creating Opportunities For Nigerians, 96 percent of Nigerian businesses are SMEs employing over 57 million Nigerians, hence, its focus on providing legal backings to ensure businesses operate more sustainably.
The report noted that legislative proposals in this area are therefore focused on the needs of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), particularly reducing regulatory burdens and easing access to capital with the objective of having a large number of sustainable fast-growing small and midsize businesses that have access to capital and can drive productivity, job creation, poverty reduction and improvement in standards of living.
Bukola Saraki, President of the Senate, said in the report’s foreword, that “As a country, we have a monumental task ahead of us, to stabilize the economy, create jobs and ensure our people have access to decent healthcare and education. The Senate has an important role to play in achieving these objectives.
“At inception the 8th Senate adopted the Senate Legislative agenda focusing on three broad areas: Improving Livelihoods, Improving Governance and Improving Business. Over the last three years we have been focused on driving this agenda undertaking a comprehensive review of businessrelated legislations in Nigeria with a view to improving Nigeria’s ease-of-doing-business ranking as well as improving the general operative environment for business in Nigeria, increasing access to funding for health care and education and building social safety nets for the most vulnerable in our society including those ravaged by war and conflict,” said Saraki.
Key legislations identified in the report, as capable of stimulating economic growth include the Secured Transactions in Movable Assets Act (2017) which is operational, and described as one of several legislations targeting easing access to finance. It provides for the registration and supervision of security interest in movable properties and secured transactions. The Act creates the National Collateral Registry to provide an effective way for lenders to find out whether the potential borrower has already granted a security interest in the collateral. It will also facilitate access to credit for new and small companies with movable assets as security, which is expected to provide basis for free-flowing credit markets and also reduces the potential losses lenders face from non-payment.
The Credit Reporting Act (2017) which is also operational, provides, a legal structure for Credit Bureau Services in Nigeria through the consumer measuring system. This system involves the establishment of a credible and credit data-base to determine the ability of every Nigerian to receive and repay a loan in Nigeria. The Act will; make loans readily available to more Nigerians especially those who might not necessarily have collateral but have good standing and are able to repay; make it easier for Nigerians to access loans through the banking system for personal or business transactions and reduce the risk of lending for banks; improve access to loans for micro and small businesses.
The recently celebrated Companies and Allied Matters Act (Amendment) Bill, which is awaiting passage by the House of Representatives, will provide significant benefits to companies by reducing red tape and making it easier to comply with regulatory obligations. Most of the changes are aimed at encouraging investments that will allow small businesses and startups thrive, lower costs and ease regulatory burdens.
The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Bill, 2015, passed by both Houses but Under Consideration is described as the first of its kind in Nigeria, will for the first time supervise and promote competition by prohibiting activities which lessen competition and create private monopolies, control mergers, acquisitions and protect consumers.
Public Procurement (Amendment) Act Bill 2016, also passed by both Houses but Under Consideration, is to ensure local manufacturers receive preference in procurement processes. It will create very big job opportunities for citizens and will hopefully close the gap between the consumption of locally-made goods and foreign goods.
Other legislations which the senate considers of importance to economic growth are the Electronic Transactions Bill, which is operational, and the Warehouse Receipts Bill, 2016 which will amongst other things, allow depositors use agricultural or other commodities stored in commercial warehouses, as collateral to obtain finance from any bank or financial institution.
As Saraki noted, the Senate intends to continue working on the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Bill to supervise and promote competition in the market to make for a more balanced development of our economy and to increase opportunities for Nigerian businesses.
The senate president expressed hope that work on this bill will be completed before the expiration of the 8th Senate. He said, “in pursuing our Improving Business agenda, we recognise that our underdeveloped transportation infrastructure is detrimental to the growth of Nigerian businesses and the economy. However, due to years of under investment the only way the country can raise the enormous amounts of capital required to fund infrastructure projects is through public-private partnerships. To this end the Senate is advancing legislation.”
It is expected that with all these legislations in place, doing business in Nigeria will be made easier, and economic growth becomes faster.
– BD Online