The Edo State Enabling Business Environment Council has set a target to improve the local business environment and improve key indicators for ease of doing business so as to rank among the top five states in Nigeria on competitiveness and attractiveness to investors.
The submission was the outcome of a strategic meeting held by the council in Benin City, with key stakeholders concerned with improving the business environment in Edo State.
Speaking on the strategic direction, Chairman of the Council and Commissioner for Finance, Budget and Economic Planning, Joseph Eboigbe, said: “We looked at two key areas that the council is going to be responsible for: The Ease of Doing Business (EoDB) workstream and the State's Action on Business Enabling Reforms (SABER). This council is going to superintend over the SABER programme and also superintend over the Ease of Doing Business.
“We are very positive that in the next round of ranking, there will be some positivity. If you take the ranking and you have done some sort of comparative analysis from states that come first and states that come last, GDP growth, unemployment rate and poverty rate and so on, you will see some states that have done very well and are able to create jobs. But in Edo State, there seems to be a disconnect with the private sector in spite of our achievements. We understand that, if we have a business environment that recorded job growth, at least, that relatively tackled poverty levels compared to the states around.”
He added, “The EoDB is a broader task than SABER. But we will work using SABER to answer the questions in improving our ranking. EoDB Secretariat will come up with an action plan for EoDB and SABER for the coming year. As part of this our EoDB action plan, the specific reform items that will focus on SABER will also be there so that we will live our normal life under EoDB, we are also achieving SABER results.”
Eboigbe noted that the key indicators to be worked on include Regulatory Environment, Transparency and Accessibility to Information, Infrastructure and Security, Skills and Labour.
Managing Director, Edo State Investment Promotion Office (ESIPO) – Ease of Doing Business Secretariat and Secretary to the Council, Mr. Kelvin Uwaibi, noted: “After the last rating of the state, it was suggested that the council will hold monthly meetings until we feel that we are good enough to start having our quarterly meetings. Council is supposed to drive the SABER programme and the target we gave ourselves is that Edo State will become among the first 5 states on ease of doing business in Nigeria.
“What we have found out is that our ranking is poor as a result of a communication gap. Part of the deliverables for the council is to see that we communicate properly and adequately with all MDAs and stakeholders, including the private sector. This is what informed our Public Private Dialogues sessions in the last few months and it has yielded good results.”
Council members who also shared their thoughts include: Commissioner for Environment and Sustainability, Engr. Osasere Evboumwan; Commissioner for Education, Dr. Joan Osa Oviawe; Commissioner for Physical Planning, Housing, Urban and Regional Development; Isoken Omo; Commissioner for Health, Prof. Obehi Akoria; Commissioner for Business, Trade and Cooperatives, Afishetu Braimoh. Other MDAs represented include Edo State Internal Revenue Service (EIRS); Edo State Transport; PPP Office and Edo-GIS.