Nigeria One of World’s Worst Places to Do Business – World Bank

Bassey Udo

The World Bank Doing Business Report 2016 says Nigeria remains one of the poorest business destinations in the world, improving marginally by just one step from its ranking last year.

Out of 189 countries surveyed, Nigeria moved from 170th position with 43.56 per cent points in 2015 to 169 with 44.69 per cent points.

The World Bank said it was more difficult to do business in Nigeria in 2016 than it was last year. The country equally improved by just one step in 2014 to the previous position last year.

While Nigeria’s ranking for starting business dropped eight places from 131st position in 2015 to 139th; dealing with construction permits remained unchanged at 175th spot as last year.

Getting electricity became more difficult in 2016, as the country fell in ranking from 181st position to 182nd, while registering property improved by four places from 185th to 181st, and getting credit gets is becoming tougher with a seven place drop in ranking from 52nd ranking to 59th.

Other rankings included protecting minority investors, which recorded the highest improvement of 13 steps up the ladder from the 33rd position last year to 20th in the current ranking, with paying taxes, trading across and borders enforcing contracts remaining unchanged at 181st, 182nd and 143rd positions respectively.

In Africa, the best business destinations are Mauritius, ranked at 32nd, Rwanda at 62nd position, Botswana and South Africa at 72nd and 73rd ranking respectively.

Ghana emerged tops from the West African sun-region on 114th position.

Among the 189 countries surveyed, Singapore topped the ranking as the easiest destination for doing business, followed by New Zealand, Denmark, Korea Republic and Hong Kong SA China, with United Kingdom and United States coming closely in that order.

The world’s top 10 economies that implemented at least three reforms during the past year and moved up the rankings scale included Costa Rica, Uganda, Kenya, Cyprus, Mauritania, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Jamaica, Senegal, and Benin.

In the report, the World Bank said developing economies quickened the pace of their business reforms in the last one year to facilitate easier start up and business operation for local investors.

The bulk of the new reforms, the bank said, were aimed at improving the efficiency of regulations, by reducing their cost and complexity, with the largest number of improvements made in the area of starting a business, measured by how long it takes to obtain a permit and its associated processing costs.

World Bank Chief Economist and Senior Vice President, Kaushik Basu, said although modern economies cannot function without regulation, businesses cannot be brought to a standstill through poor and cumbersome regulation.

“The challenge of development is to tread this narrow path by identifying regulations that are good and necessary, and shunning ones that thwart creativity and hamper the functioning of small and medium enterprises,” the report said.

The World Bank Group’s Doing Business report tracks the regulatory and bureaucratic systems of nations by conducting detailed annual surveys.

Source: Premium Times

World Bank Moves to Disclose More Information On Abacha’s Loot – Vanguard

By Abdulwahab Abdulah

Lagos — The World Bank is set to release more information on how the recovered loot from late General Sani Abacha was expended by the government of Nigeria.

To this end, the bank has referred the appeal by a civil group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, to the Bank Archives Unit for processing for public access.

The disclosure was made, yesterday, by SERAP in a statement by its Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni.

The development is coming on the heels of the appeal the organisation lodged with the bank in February 5, 2016 on the ground that its earlier decision on its initial request did not reveal “important portions of the information requested on how Abacha loot was spent.”

According to Mumuni, the Bank Access to Information Committee, AIC, in its decision on appeal issued in case number AI3982-A dated April 29, 2016, to SERAP, disclosed that “although the appeal by the organisation was not filed within 60 days of the bank’s decision as required by its Access to Information Policy, SERAP appeal nonetheless “contains a request for additional information, not previously submitted by the requester and which the bank has neither considered nor denied.”

It, therefore, referred the matter to the Archives Unit to process the request for public access.

The request is expected to address such areas as the portion on-“evidence and list of the 23 projects allegedly completed with recovered Abacha loot, and whether the 23 projects were actually completed; and what became of the two abandoned projects; evidence and location of the eight health centers built with recovered Abacha loot reviewed by the World Bank; and evidence and location of the 18 power projects confirmed by the World Bank.”

Other aspects of the spending of Abacha’s loot the bank referred for processing are information on how the $50million Abacha loot received before 2005, kept in the special account, was spent, evidence and location of schools, which benefited from the Universal Basic Education, UBE, programme in the amount N24.25 billion and evidence and location of the 13 road projects completed with the recovered Abacha loot, including the names of three of the largest road and bridge projects in each geo-political zone.”

In his reaction, Mumuni said: “It’s trite law that no procedural requirements should ever be made a tool to deny justice or perpetuate injustice.

“SERAP, therefore, welcomes the decision by the World Bank not to allow technicalities (regarding its requirement of 60 days within which to file an appeal to it) stand in the way of substantial justice, and truth on the spending of recovered Abacha loot, adding that to do otherwise would have amounted to a miscarriage of justice for millions of Nigerians who are victims of corruption.

“We now hope that the Bank Archives Unit will move swiftly to allow public access to the information requested, as directed by the Access to Information Committee.

“Any further delay in disclosing the information will delay justice to the Nigerian people. And justice delayed is justice denied. In this respect, SERAP calls on Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, former Finance Minister, who coordinated the bank’s report to assist the Archives Unit in its task for speedy disclosure of evidence and locations of projects on which recovered Abacha loot was spent.”

He called on the government of President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately obey the judgment by Justice Mohammed Idris of the Federal High Court, Lagos, which ordered publication of the spending of recovered stolen funds by the governments of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, former President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, and former President Goodluck Jonathan.

 

IMF sees sub-Saharan Africa growth near two-decade low in 2016 – Reuters

IMF

JOHANNESBURG May 3 (Reuters) – Economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa will likely slow this year to its weakest in nearly two decades, hurt by a slump in commodity prices, the Ebola virus outbreak and drought, the IMF said on Tuesday.

In its African Economic Outlook, the Fund said the region would likely grow 3 percent this year – the lowest rate since 1999 – after expanding by 3.4 percent in 2015.

Growth was seen recovering to 4 percent next year, helped by a slight recovery in commodity prices, and the Fund said it was still optimistic about the region’s prospects in the longer term.

“However, to realise this potential, a substantial policy reset is critical in many cases,” the Fund said.

Affected countries needed to contain fiscal deficits as the reduction in revenue from the commodities sector was expected to persist, it added.

Major oil exporters Angola and Nigeria were hardest hit by the slump in commodities prices, as were Ghana, South Africa and Zambia, the report said.

Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone were only gradually recovering from the Ebola epidemic, while several southern and eastern African countries including Ethiopia, Malawi and Zimbabwe were suffering from a severe drought, the IMF added.

On the upside, Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya and Senegal would see growth of more than 5 percent, mostly “supported by ongoing infrastructure investment efforts and strong private consumption,” the report said.

“The decline in oil prices has also helped these countries, though the windfall has tended to be smaller than expected, as exposure to the decline in other commodity prices and currency depreciations have partly offset the gains in many of them,” it added.

Source: Reuters