Chairman, Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN), Vicky Haastrup, says Nigeria will continue to rank poorly on the global Ease of Doing Business Index until government addresses critical infrastructural deficits.
Speaking in Lagos recently at the 2018 Multimodal West Africa International Transport, Logistics and Supply Chain Management Exhibition organised by the Chartered Institute of Logistics of Transport (CILT) Nigeria, Haastrup said most of the sub-indices used by the World Bank to measure the Ease of Doing Business in 190 countries of the world were still begging for government attention in the country.
“The Ease of Doing Business ranking of a country is based on 10 sub-indices, which include starting a business; dealing with construction permits; getting electricity; registering property and getting credit,” she said.
She listed other indices to include protecting investors; paying taxes; trading across borders, enforcing contracts and resolving insolvency.
While commending the present government for its determination to improve on the country’s Ease of Doing Business ranking, she said the infrastructural gap bedevilling the country could be addressed within a medium-term framework if government so desired.
According to Haastrup, a cursory appraisal of Nigeria’s operating environment reveals a yawning gap in some of the sub-indices.
“On getting electricity and the cost of electricity; we are just not there at all. I am sure every Nigerian can talk extensively on this. It should concern every well-meaning Nigerian that we still face this huge problem almost two decades into the 21st Century. Today, the cost of generating electricity through generators is killing businesses,” she said.
She noted that access to credit was still a major challenge, especially for small businesses, while businesses that were able to access credit now deal with high cost of borrowing.
On taxes, she pointed out that many businesses in Nigeria were still being constrained with multiple taxation.
“On trading across borders; our cargo clearing processes are still primitive. Customs checks are duplicated, manual and too laborious. There are also too many government agencies involved in cargo examination at the port and land border posts. All of these slow down trade and add to the cost of doing business.
“On enforcing contracts; we must note that no investor will bring their money to the table until we begin to respect the sanctity of contracts,” she said.
Haastrup said Nigeria is a country with enormous human and material resources with a youthful and teeming population of over 180 million, “which is a huge market beckoning on discerning investors.
“Under the right leadership, the economic successes recorded by a country like Singapore will fade in significance in comparison to ours. Unemployment and poverty will belong to our past if we create the right environment for businesses to thrive.”
Jonathan Nicole, president, Shippers Association of Lagos State, said the poor condition of the access roads into Apapa and Tin-Can Island ports had been a major challenge to doing business at the ports.
This, according to Nicole, has been pushing up the cost of doing business for shippers and manufacturers, whose goods and raw materials spend days and weeks before getting to their warehouses.