Q&A: How ease-of-doing-business executive order affects you

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Exercising presidential authority, Yemi Osinbajo, acting president, signed three executive orders into law on Thursday.

The three executive orders signed by Osinbajo were “the promotion of transparency and efficiency in the business environment, designed to facilitate ease of doing business in Nigeria; support for local content in public procurement by the government, and timely submission of annual budgetary estimates by all statutory and non-statutory agencies”.

With the aid of a full excerpt of the ease of doing business order, here is what the executive order is all about and how it affects the average Nigerian.

Q: How do I know the requirements for registering a business or getting a permit?

A: According to section 1 of the executive order, every MDA of the federal government will publish a complete list of requirements (including fees), publish the list on its website and paste it in a conspicuous place in its premises within 21 days of the issuance of the order.

Q: What if something changes on the list?

A: Section 2 of the executive order says “It shall be the responsibility of the head of the relevant MDA to ensure that the list is verified and kept up-to-date at all times. If there is any conflict between a published and an unpublished list of requirements, the published list shall prevail”.

Q: How long will it take to get approval?

A: In the published list, the relevant agency will state the stipulated time in getting an approval.

Q: How will I get a response from the agency?

A: Section 6 of the executive order states: “There shall be at least two (2) modes of communication of acceptance or rejection of applications to the applicants by the relevant MDAs before the expiration of the stipulated time, including letters, emails and publications on MDA websites.”

Q: What if I don’t get a response within the stipulated time?

A: According to section 3 of the executive order, any application for permits, registration or licenses not approved or rejected within the stipulated time will be deemed approved.

“Where the relevant agency or official fails to communicate approval or rejection of an application within the time stipulated in the published list, all applications for business registrations, certification, waivers, licenses or permits not concluded within the stipulated timeline shall be deemed approved and granted.”

Q: After approval, what next?

A: An applicant whose application is deemed granted under this directive may apply to the minister for the time being in charge of the application for the issuance of any document or certificate in evidence of the grant within 14 days of lapse of the MDA’s stipulated timeline for the application.

Q: How long will it take to get a business entry visa?

A: Section 14 says “Ordinary tourist and business entry visas to Nigeria shall henceforth be issued or rejected with reason by the consular office of Nigerian embassies and high commissions within 48 hours of receipt of valid application. The timeline shall be notified to the public by pasting a notice conspicuously at every consular office and by publication on every website of Nigerian embassies and high commissions”.

Q: Does it affect touts at the ports?

A: Section 17 of the executive order caters for that. “There shall be no touting whatsoever by official or unofficial persons at any port in Nigeria. On duty staff shall be properly identified by uniform and official cards. Off duty staff shall stay away from the ports except with the express approval of the agency head.”

Q: What about bribes?

A: Any official caught soliciting or receiving bribes from passengers or other port users shall be subject to immediate removal from the post and disciplinary as well as criminal proceedings in line with extant laws and regulations.

Q: What about the endless checkpoints at ports and airports?

A: According to Section 20 and 21, “All relevant MDAs at the airports shall within 30 days of the issuance of this order merge their respective departure and arrival interfaces into a single customer interface, without prejudice to necessary backend procedures.

“All agencies currently physically present in Nigerian ports shall within 60 days harmonise their operations into one single interface station domiciled in one location in the port and implemented by a single joint task force at all times, without prejudice to necessary backend procedures.”

Q: Any consideration for agricultural products?

A: Yes, there is. “Each port in Nigeria shall assign an existing export terminal to be dedicated to the exportation of agriculture produce within 30 days of the issuance of this order.”

Q: Does this affect the registration process at CAC?

A: Yes, in fact, the order makes provision for an online payment platform. “The Registrar-General of the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) shall within 14 days of the issuance of this order ensure that all registration processes at the CAC are fully automated through the CAC website from the start of an application process to completion, including ensuring the availability of an online payment platform where necessary.”

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