In order to sharpen their skills and acquaint them with recent instrument for the assessment of the four traditional BECANS benchmarks across the States in Nigeria, the field officers were on Thursday October 16, 2014 trained in Abuja to commence the survey of the third cycle – BECANS III.
The benchmarks are the business environmental factors which have been categorised into four namely, infrastructure and utilities; regulatory services, business development support and investment promotion, and security. The four areas of survey are considered crucial for business investment, support and growth. A number of the factors are within the ambit of direct influence by state governments, but a few others need the provision of enabling environment for them to be instituted by the private sector.
To capture these issues, an instrument was developed which is to be administered to both private sector and public sector institutions. Documentary evidences are mostly received to support claims by both the public and private sector on almost every indicator. The instrument is programmable and in many cases, assessor’s judgement is required to admit or reject a piece of evidence. The guidance manual which was used for the training seeks to explain the concept underlying the four benchmark areas, as well as the associated measures and indicators.
Welcoming the participants selected from the 36 States and the Federal Capital Territory, the Executive Director, Dr Ifediora Amobi said the Institution had consulted and deliberated with all the critical stakeholders including the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Federal Ministry of Finance, Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, National Bureau of Statistics, National Planning Commission, and others to ensure their buy-in. He added that the Organised Private Sector, the relevant Civil Society Organisations; the Non Governmental Organisations would be involved at different stages of the BECANS III project.
He opined that, “Despite Nigeria’s unrealized potential, we have found that the country has recorded significant improvements in its macroeconomic indices and growth performance. However, poverty, unemployment, insecurity and good governance continue to plague us as a nation, and we have found that this is largely linked to the stunted growth and competitiveness of the non-oil private sector, which is a result of the harsh business environment that affects every business decision and every investment, both domestic and foreign.”
BECANS intends to inform, influence and stimulate policy and institutional reforms for better business environment across Nigerian States; to engender mutual learning, peer review and dissemination of best practices among Nigeria’s state governments; and to provide systematic framework for regular self-monitoring and benchmarking of policy and institutional reforms by state governments.
The Coordinator of BECANS, Professor Jones Lemchi said the Institution was embarking on the project to provide scientific evidence for assessing business environment in Nigerian states in on going basis. Prof. Lemchi said the outcome of the study would also provide investment information for domestic and foreign investors among others, adding that when the state governments see the document as a peer review mechanism they would see the need to improve on the different factors that influence the business environment.
All the field officers, the Technical Working Group, the in-house research staff and other support staff were present at the training.