OSINBAJO

Nigeria Relaxes Visa Process For Investors

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Vice President Yemi Osinbajo yesterday said the federal government would in furtherance of efforts to improve the ease of doing business in the country, issue visas on arrival to foreign investors coming into the country.

Prof Osinbajo, who doubles as the head of the economic management team, made the assertion yesterday, at the first annual lecture and public presentation of The Interview magazine in Abuja.

Speaking on the theme, “Why Start-ups Fail and Strategies to Save Them,” the vice president who shared fresh insights into the government’s economic recovery efforts, said that there was no reason why Nigeria should not be well run like other investor friendly countries, adding that the federal government is committed to ensuring that it is easier for people to access all the different facilities that would make it easy to do business in the country.

He stated that one of the critical issues facing foreign investors was accessing the country’s visa but assured that things were set to change as the federal government had introduced visa on arrival for investors.

“One of the important innovations that we have introduced is that of visa on arrival. This process is one that is already in regulations. That usually involves your applying ahead and just taking up a visa.  The actual visa on arrival process that we think will free off the process is one where you are able to arrive here and get your visa,” Osinbajo said.

He noted that the business of the federal government is to create the right environment for start-ups as well as the right environment for doing business.

According to him, “The problem we have experienced in Nigeria in most cases is that approval processes are needlessly difficult. Bureaucrats generally get caught in, seeing the process as an end in itself not as a means to an end.”

Osinbajo said that the federal government had observed that a bureaucrat, more often than not, does not believe that it is his responsibility to facilitate business.

“A bureaucrat sits at his desk and sees the whole process as ‘this is my daily work, I do not have to rush it, I do not have to be necessarily over-accountable for it; I will take my time.’ If you want approval, it could take you three days; it could take you three months.

“And of course, this is compounded by the fact that very quickly, all of these processes become toll-gates for corruption one way or the other, so the public official really does not render services himself as being involved in the business of growing private enterprise or growing business or creating jobs,” he stated.

The vice president further stated that the present administration was committed to ensuring that Nigeria goes up on the World Bank’s ease of doing business index before the end of 2017.

To achieve this, he said President Muhammadu Buhari had already inaugurated a committee which he chairs, with a mandate to move Nigeria up by 50 spaces on the World Bank’s ease of doing business index before the end of 2017.

Osinbajo remarked that the country’s processes are too difficult and filled with all manner of bottlenecks and emphasised the need to cut off these processes.

“So one of the ways we are trying to streamline the process is to ensure that a government department does not ask you to go and get a certification from another government department. It is the business of government departments to talk to each other and facilitate the process for the investor or the person who is doing the business.

“Access to credit and land registration are some of the other issues. We are in talks with the state governments because access to land is a very important issue, especially in the major commercial capitals of Nigeria. In those major commercial capitals, some of the major problems that are being experienced are access to land, access to approvals and access to certificates of occupancy.”

He added that most of the countries that have succeeded in attracting foreign investment have had to take a second look at their processes of allowing people into their country.

In his address, Katsina State governor, Aminu Bello Masari, said Nigeria has all it takes to be an investor’s haven. He called for the right political environment by the government, relevant stakeholders as well as Nigerians, to actualise the aspiration.

“When the economy was going well and the money was coming, everybody was a good manager but this is the time Nigerians need leaders, not big men, because we are not short of big men but we need leaders,” Masari stated.

 

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