Osinbajo to state govts: Your hard work critical for business environment reforms to succeed

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo SAN chairs the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council meeting on Tuesady, August 16, 2022. Photo: State House/Tolani Alli

PEBEC proposes $750m World Bank-backed program for sub-nationals starting next year

State Governments and their agencies have a significant role to play in ensuring an enabling environment for businesses to thrive.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, made this assertion at a virtual meeting of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) where a presentation of the State Action on Business Enabling Reforms (SABER) Program coordinated by the secretariat and the World Bank was discussed.

The SABER Program is a 3-year (Jan 2023 – Dec 2025) performance-based intervention jointly designed by the World Bank and the PEBEC Secretariat with support from the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning and the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) Secretariat.

The purpose is to incentivize and strengthen the implementation of business enabling reforms in Nigeria specifically across the participating States of the Federation and the FCT.

According to Prof Osinbajo, “for all who are charged with responsibilities at the State level, you have your work cut out for you.

“If we are going to have the kind of business environment that our country deserves and that can make a difference for our economy, it is the hard work at the sub-national level that would really move the needle.”

He added that “the States’ process is a very important one and I hope that we will be able to spend individually, especially in the States, a fair amount of time trying to work out how this will work in actual practice in our various States.”

Prof Osinbajo then noted that at the Federal level, it has been a major challenge “just trying to coordinate agencies and parastatals.”

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In her remarks, Dr Jumoke Oduwole, the Special Adviser on Ease of Doing Business and Secretary of PEBEC, stated that “we have been collaborating for over two years in conceptualizing the SABER Program,” adding that “it is the first programme of this size that the World Bank is embarking on at this scale globally.”

The program is a $750million operation comprising two main areas – $730million Program-for-Results Financing (PforR) component and $ 20 million technical assistance for investment project financing.”

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs (Dr.) Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed had made a formal request to the World Bank for the preparation of the State Action on Business Enabling Reforms (SABER) Program with Government Partners.

This was after a request came from PEBEC, through its Vice Chairman, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Niyi Adebayo, asking for the World Bank’s support for deepening ease of doing business reforms at the sub-national level.

The four main objectives of this PEBEC–NEC Ease of Doing Business intervention are:

1. Deepen subnational business-enabling reforms through SABER program incentives, using result-based financing targeted at improving the business environment.

2. Deliver technical assistance to all states to support gaps in reform implementation and provide opportunities for structural development and institutionalization of reforms across the country leveraging the PEBEC-NEC implementation structure.

3. Ride on the back of the State Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) Programme, which has created a mutual accountability platform between the Federal Government and the States. The SABER will further consolidate and deepen gains from EoDB reforms implemented across the country.

4. Facilitate crowding-in private investments at scale, a key requirement for the achievement of Nigeria’s development priorities

Present at the virtual PEBEC meeting were some of the Chairpersons of the Ease of Doing Business Council in various States across the country including Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal of Sokoto State; Governor Adegboyega Oyetola of Osun State; Deputy Governors of Abia, Cross River and Kaduna; Secretary to the State Government, Anambra; Federal Ministers who are members of the commission including the Industry, Trade and Investment Minister, Otunba Niyi Adebayo; Information & Culture Minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed; Interior Minister, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola and Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama.

Other present were the Commissioners of Finance and Economic Development in Ekiti and Ogun, representatives of Governors, other Senior Government Officials as well as the World Bank Country Director in Nigeria, Mr Shubaham Chaudhuri.