The Nigerian government has been working relentlessly to improve the ease of doing business in Nigeria. The Business Facilitation (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2023 (“the Act”) is evidence of the continuous high-level commitment from the offices of the President and the Vice President to improve the business environment in Nigeria. It consolidates the last seven years of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) led reforms and demonstrates the Administration’s sustained commitment towards making Nigeria a progressively easier place to start and grow a business.
The Act seeks to promote the ease of doing business to ensure transparency, efficiency, productivity, and other related matters in Nigeria. The Act was signed into law on February 10, 2023, by President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, for the delivery of an enabling environment for micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs).
The Act in its Schedule amends 21 other laws relevant to the business environment. Among the Acts consequentially amended are :
1. Companies and Allied Matters Act, No. 3, 2020
2. The Nigerian Export Promotion Council Act, Cap. N108, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004
3. The Customs and Excise Management Act, Cap. C45, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004
4. The Export (Prohibition) Act, Cap. E22, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004
5. The Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria Act, No. 6, 2011
6. The Foreign Exchange (Monitoring and Miscellaneous Provision) Act, Cap. F34, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004
7. The Immigration Act, No. 8, 2015
8. The Industrial Inspectorate Act, Cap. I8, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004
9. The Industrial Training Fund Act, Cap. I9, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004
10. The Investment and Securities Act, No. 29, 2007
11. The National Housing Fund Act, Cap. N45, 2004
12. The National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion Act, Cap. N62, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004
13. The National Planning Commission Act, Cap. N66, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004
14. The Nigerian Customs Service Board Act, Cap. N100, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004
15. The Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission Act, Cap. N117, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004
16. The Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development Act, No. 2, 2010
17. The Nigerian Ports Authority Act, Cap. N126, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004
18. The Patents and Designs Act, Cap. P2, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004
19. The Pension Reform Act No. 4, 2014
20. The Standards Organisation of Nigeria Act No. 14, 2015
21. The Trademarks Act, Cap. T13, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004
The various consequential amendments provide a more conducive business environment for investors and entrepreneurs. The Act requires regulators to adopt modern means for operationalization in the delivery of their services, making the regulatory compliance process for companies and businesses easier and faster. For instance, under section 52(b) of the Act, section 3 of the Nigerian Customs Service Board Act is amended by inserting a new subparagraph “(iii)” which requires the Nigerian Customs Service Board to “adopt modern means of operationalisation and develop regulations for the carrying out of the activities of the service”. In addition to the adoption of modern means of operationalization, the Act also requires the automation of application and filing processes by the Corporate Affairs Commission and the Nigerian Immigration Service. (Sections 8 and 37 of the Act).
To aid faster processes and improve transparency, the Act adopts electronic means of communication as an official medium to transmit information. Section 10 of the Act, defines “modes of communication” to include letters, emails, and publications on official websites.” To ensure transparency in processes, section 3 of the Act requires Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) in the delivery of products and services to publish a complete list of requirements for obtaining products and services from the respective MDA, ensure that the requirements are conspicuously published on the website of the relevant MDA, and available at the customer help desk or other designated office. Section 3(2) of the Act expounds products and services to include permits, licenses, waivers, tax related processes, filings, approvals, registration, certification, and other products and services, in accordance with the functions of the MDA.
The Act also introduces the concept of the “single window” into Nigerian Law to provide an effective framework to facilitate international trade (Sections 24 – 28 of the Act). The definition of the single window was first provided by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Recommendation No. 33 in 2004. Under the UNECE Recommendation No. 33 single window is defined as “a facility that allows parties involved in trade and transport to lodge standardized information and documents with a single-entry point to fulfill all import, export, and transit-related regulatory requirements. If information is electronic, then individual data elements should only be submitted once”. Earlier adopted by countries such as Ghana, Singapore and Senegal, the Act adopts this concept into Nigerian law by amending Section 2 of the Customs and Excise Management Act and inserting the definition of single window to mean “a platform or facility that allows parties involved in trade and transport to lodge trade-import, export or transit-data required by government departments, authorities or agencies through a single-entry point interface to fulfil all import, export, transit related and other regulatory requirements.”
With the proper implementation of the various reforms introduced by the Act, Nigeria could experience an increased inflow of foreign Investments and a positive impact on its economy. One interesting benefit of the Act is the level of positive impact it proposes to have on all sectors of the Nigerian economy if properly implemented.
Our insightful investment guide for Nigeria as a destination of choice for investment and doing business can be consulted here
Reach out to our team of lawyers and business advisors at Centurion Law Group. We seamlessly guide our clients through Africa’s abundant investment opportunities. Leon Van Merwe – email@example.com Keseena Chengadu- firstname.lastname@example.org
Author: Tamaraemi Jombai Centurion Law Group, Nigeri