Dr Jumoke Oduwole, the Special Adviser to the President on Ease of Doing Business, has commended the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for approving the Business Facilitation Bill to promote ease of doing business in the country.

Oduwole, who is also the Secretary to Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC), said this in a statement on Thursday in Abuja.

She said the approval was in line with the Federal Government ‘s’ commitment to improving the business environment in Nigeria through legislative interventions.

According to her, PEBEC is sponsoring the business facilitation (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill, otherwise known as the “Omnibus Bill”.

She said the Omnibus bill was aimed at amending specific laws relating to ease of doing business and embodying such amendments into single legislation to act as a catalyst for legislative reform of the Nigerian business climate.

“The PEBEC Secretariat commenced a review of Nigerian Business Laws in 2017, together with several public sector and private sector stakeholders. This includes the Federal Ministry of Justice.

“The Section on Business Law of the Nigerian Bar Association (through the participation of over 40 law firms and consulting firms), the Nigerian Economic Summit Group, and the National Assembly Business Environment Roundtable (NASSBER).

“Sequel to the review, the Secretariat invited submissions from various public sector stakeholders.

“In 2018, the first version of the Omnibus Bill was produced by the Federal Ministry of Justice and presented to the PEBEC in 2019.

“Stakeholder engagements were thereafter held with various Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) to sensitise them on the contents of the first draft of the Omnibus Bill.

“In 2020, the PEBEC Secretariat invited additional submissions to the Omnibus Bill from both public and private sector stakeholders and subsequently drafted and finalised by the Legal Drafting Department of the Federal Ministry of Justice in November 2021,” Oduwole said.

The PEBEC secretary said the bill sought to amend 23 business-related laws in Nigeria and the overall benefits of the Bill include ensuring efficiency in public service delivery in terms of time, cost, and procedure for doing business.

She said it would also improve transparency, remove outdated provisions from relevant laws, and provide incentives to encourage Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) participation in business, among other things.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that highlights of the bill include the codification of the Presidential Executive Order 001, which requires MDAs to publish licenses, permits, waivers, approvals, and other related information.

These, among other things, are to improve transparency and public access to information.

NAN also reports that it includes the amendment of the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) 2020 with the recognition of electronic share certificates, electronic voting at annual general meetings, and other information is in tandem with technology best practices.

Oduwole said the provisions of the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) Act and CAMA have been reconciled to recognise the exemption of free trade zone companies licensed by NEPZA from company registration.

“The Bill also provides for ease in the procedure for increase in share capital by including the option for such decisions to be determined by a resolution of the Board of Directors.

“More so, it is being proposed that the minimum number of independent directors for public companies be revised from three to one-third of the Board.

“With the amendment of the Export (Prohibition) Act, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning will now have clear cut powers to recommend goods that should be restricted from being exported.

“This will encourage flexibility in terms of prohibited products and prohibition scope, allowing them to align with economic realities at any given time.

“FEC thoroughly examined and considered the impact of this Omnibus bill and subject to the incorporation of some minor amendments, approved the Bill for transmission to the National Assembly,” she said.

Oduwole said PEBEC was optimistic that the National Assembly’s consideration and anticipated passage of the Omnibus Bill into law would further improve the business environment in Nigeria.

She added that it would also attract the much-needed participation and investment from the private sector necessary to actualise the funding objectives of the National Development Plan 2021. (NAN)

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