The Abia State Council on Ease of Doing Business on Thursday held a one-day sensitization and Interactive Session on the World Bank State Action On Business Enabling Reforms (SABER) Program.
The event tagged “Understanding Reforms, Easing Pain Points” was held at the Micheal Okpara Auditorium in Umuahia, Abia state.
The interactive event was attended by the Deputy Governor of Abia state, RT. Hon. Ude Oko Chukwu, Mrs. Uzoramaka Amuche, representative of Ministry of Trade and Investment, Chief Uche Nwanoruo, the commissioner for transport, representatives from the ministry of lands and survey, captains of industries and other dignitaries.
The event also had the presence of business men and women from various parts of the state. They received different expository information on the efforts put in place so far by the Abia state government for the ease of doing business in the state.
The Deputy governor RT. Hon Ude Oko Chukwu in his speech said governor Okezie Ikpeazu has done so much to ensure ease of doing business in Abia state through infrastructural development especially in Aba, and also breaking the bottleneck of land acquisition, fair taxation, accessibility of fund, loans and improvement of power supply with the engagement of Geometric power project which is to give 24 hours power supply to Aba, done to encourage investors doing business in the state.
Rt. Hon Ude Oko Chukwu in his speech also pleaded with the participants to feel free to make contributions and point out grey areas needed for improvement on the ease of doing business in Abia state.
Mr Chineye Nwaogu, the state Reform Champion/secretary of the program in his speech hinted that “the Abia State Government since 2015 have continuously worked hard to improve the business operating environment to enable MSMEs, Businesses and organized private sector to transact their businesses with minimal inconveniences.”
He also added that the efforts of the Abia state Government have payed off in 2018 when the world bank adjudged Abia State as one of the 5 most improved states on the ease of doing business ranking, also adding that the massive infrastructural upgrade in some of urban centres especially Aba the hub of commercial activities.
In his words: “It is on record that this government has done numerous roads leading to commercial and business hubs with a view to easing movement of goods and humans within the state.
“As a government we have several intervened and engage with development financial institutions like Bank of Industry in other to ensure that the bottlenecks regarding access to finance is made a bit easier for our people. This lead us to establishing an SME Microfinance Bank to ensure our SMEs have easier access to cheap loans to expand their businesses and operations.”
He also added that Abia government introduced policies and set up Ministries and Agencies to ensure that the private sector receives adequate support from government to aid their transactions.
During the interactive section of the program, Dr Amb. Darlington Onuoha Kalu of the Abia state Coalition of Business Groups and Association of Nigeria (COBGAN) in his contribution lauded the importance of having the event to address needed grey areas they encounter as businessmen.
Amb. Darlington said there is a need to pay necessary attention on the need for ease of doing business on the leather and garment industry in Abia state. He also lamented on the ways business premises are been sealed due to tussle of taxation.
In his words: “If you come to Aba, by the time you wake up, you will see that a house has been sealed and that is to say a closure of the building because the people did not pay one revenue or the order and because of cost constituted and it is a judgment against that business. That is not the ease of doing business.”
Amb. Darlington also lamented that the transport system of the state dosen’t suit the ease of doing business. He cited that there is no proper motor park arrangement in Aba while hoodlums has taken over newly built bus stop in Aba.
William Charles Okechukwu, the President of Leather Products manufacturers Association of Abia state LEPMAAB, in his contribution complained that the government needs to take up the rehabilitation of Aba Port Harcourt road despite been a federal government road because most of the people who patronizes them comes from that axis. He describe the road to be very strategic not to be attended to because it hampers ease of doing business in the state.
In response to the grey areas pointed out by the participants, Mr Chineye Nwaogu hinted that the said Enugu Port Harcorrt road has been concession to a private sector to build it to world class as the process is smoothly going on.
As regards the power sector, Mr Chineye Nwaogu said that experts from the United states are in Aba to put finishing touches to to Geometric power project that will ensure regular power supply in Aba.
Mr Chineye Nwaogu assured that every complain made will be mainstreamed for improvement and adjustment.
In his words; “Our intervention as a government has also added impetus to resolving the protracted Geometric power tussle with EEDC, a situation that will greatly enhance the availability of power for industrial and commercial use in Aba and its environs.