We will cut agencies at ports from 15 to six-Lai Mohammed

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Lai Mohammed.

Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, says the government will cut the number of agencies across Nigerian seaports and airports from 15 to six.

Mohammed, who is also a member of Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC), said once the council prunes the number of agencies at the ports to six, it will be possible for people to clear their goods within 24 or 48 hours.

He reiterated the government’s commitment to improving Nigeria’s ranking in the World Bank Ease of Doing Business Index, saying the current ranking of 169 out of 190 countries is unacceptable.

“It’s unsatisfactory that today we are ranked 169 out of 190. That is not very good and the things that we don’t take seriously, like a file staying for 14 days on somebody’s desk, add to this poor ranking,” he said.

“People don’t seem to appreciate how the poor attitude to work impacts negatively on the image of Nigeria and the ease of doing business.

“This is what this Council has been working on since last year and I am proud to say that this Council has been working slowly and steadily but they are actually achieving results.”

Citing the example of Georgia, which was ranked in the 160s a few years ago but currently occupies the fifth position on the global index, Mohammed said though the task of moving Nigeria up the ladder is daunting, there is the abundance of the political will on the part of government to achieve such improvement.

Executive Secretary of PEBEC, Jumoke Oduwole, who paid Mohammed a visit said the 2017 priority areas for business reform include starting a business, getting credit, trading across the border, paying taxes, construction permits and registering property.

She said three areas prioritized based on engagement with the private sector are entry and exit of goods, entry and exit of people and government transparency.

“The Visa-on-Arrival Programme has been updated to include e-submission,” Oduwole said.

“Before people had to go to the Immigration Office to submit in person so that the Comptroller General of Immigration could give his assent, but now you can submit and they is also a dedicated desk and you don’t have to go physically anymore.”

She disclosed that the council has harmonised the entry and exit forms being managed by different agencies of government at our airports and today, instead of filling four different forms to exit you fill only one and the number of questions on that single form has now been reduced from 23 to 15.

The PEBEC secretary said the authorities at the ports have been mandated to install the iCheck Security Solution Technology, which will phase out the entry and exit forms in due course.

She also disclosed that 11 bills are currently before the National Assembly, which will tremendously enhance the ease of doing business in Nigeria when they are eventually enacted into law.