Hammed Shittu in Ilorin
Piqued by the ranking of the Kwara State in the North central zone of the country as the lowest state in terms of Ease of Doing Business, the state Governor, Alhaji AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, has pledged to implement reforms that would change the narrative.
He said the ranking was not unacceptable, stressing that steps were already being taken to make business transactions a lot easier and faster for attract investors.
Abdulrasaq stated this in Ilorin, at the North Central regional engagement on Ease of Doing Business which was organised by the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) and the Kwara State Government.
The event was attended by the Special Adviser to the President on Ease of Doing Business, Dr. Jumoke Oduwole; Secretary to the Kwara State Government, Prof. Mamman Saba Jibril; Chief of Staff to the Governor, Aminu Adisa Logun; Kwara Commissioner-designates; PEBEC Enabling Business Environment Secretariat Project Manager, Ayokunnu Ojeniyi; representatives of federal government agencies; several small and medium-sized enterprises; and regulatory bodies from across the region.
AbdulRazaq, who was represented by the Deputy Governor, Kayode Alabi, said that, “various concrete steps are already being taken to make business transactions a lot easier and faster to attract investors.”
The governor expressed dismay at a World Bank report in 2018, which had ranked Kwara 30th out of 37 states, including the FCT — and the lowest in the North Central — in the ease of doing business.
“On the national average, according to the report, Kwara ranked the lowest among its peers in the North Central. In terms of starting a business, Kwara ranked 7th out of the seven states sampled in the zone, including the Federal Capital Territory (Abuja).
“In dealing with construction permit, we ranked fourth out of seven; in registering of properties, Kwara ranked sixth out of seven; and in terms of enforcing contract, Kwara ranked seventh out of the seven states/places,” AbdulRazaq said.
He stressed that, “This was the stark reality of our state — and it only confirmed our position that this state was practically run aground, notwithstanding the propaganda.
“We have decided to put these figures in perspective not necessarily to brood over the past but to challenge ourselves on the need to do things differently as we get set to rewrite the story of our state.
“Our officials are to note that this narrative must change going forward. Kwara must reclaim its glory!”
He added, however, that many steps were already being taken by his administration to turn the page, citing the ongoing reforms at the Kwara State Internal Revenue Services (KW-IRS) and the efforts to run e-governance which have begun with the strictly online administration of students’ bursary and upcoming take off of e-learning from the Kwara State Library.
“Apart from security and peaceful environment which we enjoy, this administration believes that human capital and infrastructural development constitute important incentives for any investor as they contribute to significantly reducing transactional costs.
“To this extent, our first budget in 2020 will focus more on basic education, healthcare, and road network, among other things. We are also irrevocably committed to building strong institutions to drive growth”.
Abdulrasaq stated further that, “Kwara means business and our target is to make our state one of Nigeria’s friendliest in the ease of doing business. We are seriously working on e-governance whereby you can be anywhere in the world and transact business with the government or anybody in Kwara State.
“As we speak, the Kwara State Internal Revenue Service (KW-IRS) is in the process of rearranging of our processes such that tax assessment, payment, printing of receipts for tax payment down to processing of tax clearance certificate can be initiated real time and completed online. Another upcoming reform is the harmonisation of bills and structured payment of tax/revenue obligations.”
Also, in her remark, Oduwole said PEBEC had done a lot within the last three years to ease the business environment in Nigeria, with the country moving many inches up the ladder in global ranking.