THE plan by the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) to facilitate ease of doing business is beginning to bear concrete strategies. One of such plans is with regards to the issuance of visa.
According to the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, the process has been made more business friendly, with the creation of different types of visas, which include visa on arrival, business visa, tourist visa and transit visa. Another friendly development is the news from the Enabling Business Environment Secretariat (EBES) that business registration can now be concluded at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), within 60 days, using one form, instead of the previous seven forms.
We commend the PEBEC for these practical actions to make the business environment friendlier, in the hope that the relevant agencies will walk their talk. According to Mohammed, the new visa policies are geared towards boosting tourism, in line with the economic diversification agenda of President Muhammadu Buhari. In his words: “The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) has reviewed the requirements for Nigerian visas to make them more customer friendly and details of this review are available on the NIS official website”.
By that arrangement, high-net-worth foreign business men, who wish to quickly visit Nigeria for a business trip, need not bother seeking for the nearest Nigerian consulate to obtain a visa, before making a few days visit. Under the arrangement, they can obtain a visa at the point of entry, to attend a business meeting, seminar, conference, or a trade fair. The tourist visa is also available for those wishing to visit the many tourist sites in Nigeria, or those seeking to visit their families and friends. There are plans also to harmonise the multiple forms/cards filled at the arrival points, into only one form/card.
Other efforts to key into the 60-day national action plan, for ease of doing business include the creation of additional 28 offices across the country, for the issuance of Combined Expatriate Residence Permit and Aliens Card, and also the decentralisation of the re-issuance of passports to all the state commands of the National Immigration Services. It is towards the same purpose that the CAC is working to ensure a 60-day cycle for the registration of business.
According to a report, the Special Assistant to the Registrar-General of the CAC, Garba Abubakar, at the Enabling Business Environment forum in Lagos, said:
“We now have just one form which has been deployed this week. It contains all the information you need to register and is available for download on the CAC website. This reduces the cost and time needed to register a business”.
A similar forum was held a day before in Kano. Another initiative to aid the ease of doing business is the introduction of e-stamp duty, without visiting the Federal Inland Revenue Service. There is also the issuance of Tax Identification Number at the point of business registration.
According to Dr Jumoke Oduwole, the coordinator of EBES, the game plan is to use the fora across the country to inform business men and women of the current efforts, share details of the action plan and report back to the PEBEC. She also said the recent unscheduled visit by the acting President to the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, was a fallout of such feedback.
The minders of President Muhammadu Buhari’s presidency argue that what is happening is the actualisation of the government’s action plan to diversify the economy. We commend these efforts and urge for their sustenance.
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