From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has urged regulators of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the country not to be stumbling blocks but facilitators.
The Vice President urged businesses to call out government officials making things difficult for them.
He said this in Abuja Monday at the commissioning of the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Trade and Convention Centre.
According to Osinbajo, ‘with respect to government policy, of course, you are aware that the government’s position is that we must continue, on an incremental basis, to provide for ourselves, a properly enabling business environment in every respect which is why we have Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) which focuses on trying to improve on the business environment.
‘But I think that one of the drawbacks that we have had in improving the business environment is really with respect to how we regulate small businesses. So, for example in Abuja, I hear very frequently, small businesses who talk about the kind of problems that they experience, either with fumigation licenses, or one license or the other. All manner of constraints, which ideally should not occur.’
Citing a presidential directive on improving the business environment in the country, the Vice President said ‘the private sector must work, very actively with us, in ensuring that we are policemen and women of the regulations,’ adding that ‘a time has come for us to have a Chamber of Commerce, paying attention to all that is going on in the MSMEs space especially with respect to regulation. You must call out government officials who are making it difficult for people to do business.
‘If you recall, the President himself said that there is no way the private sector and business can thrive if government officials see themselves as roadblocks and hindrances as opposed to facilitators. Every government regulator must be a facilitator of business that is the way forward. We cannot afford a situation where government regulators see themselves as policemen only, they must be facilitators of things.’
The Vice President noted that: ‘I know that the Minister of the FCT is actively working with the PEBEC and the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, have all been concerned about making this work. But Abuja is just one example of how generally speaking, all over the country, we need to take a second look at how we regulate small businesses.’
The trade centre, according to Osinbajo, underscores the size of the nation’s private sector which he says will determine the country’s economic trajectory.
He asked the Abuja Chambers of Commerce and Industry to be more active in its engagement with SMEs and create a model other states can emulate across the country.
The convention centre took three years to build and is designed to among other things for indoor trade expos to encourage small and medium enterprises to market their wares.
Earlier in his remark, Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Niyi Adebayo assured the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) of his ministry’s support in growing businesses in Nigeria.
On his part, the President of ACCI, Prince Adetokunbo Kayode, said the Convention Centre will serve as a place for the promotion of Nigerian businesses and the empowerment of the youths.
The Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry was established in 1986 with the principal objective of promoting economic and industrial development within the FCT in particular and Nigeria in general.