|Governments are the primary actors in the design and management of business environment reforms. They develop, implement, and monitor the laws and policies that regulate business activities. However, to design effective reforms that address real business roadblocks and achieve high quality economic growth for society, the inputs, and cooperation of those operating under the legal and regulatory framework – businesses and entrepreneurs are instrumental. The private sector can contribute significantly to business environment reforms by helping policymakers to identify and catalogue concrete problems, develop potential policy responses and reviews, and build a sustainable constituency for reform. This process that enables businesses often acting through business membership associations, to come together and present their concerns and solutions to governments, is an important aspect of business advocacy.
Support for business advocacy is important, but also especially challenging when governments lack the technical expertise or organizational capacities to manage reform programmes. Business advocacy is by no means a panacea to uncompetitive business regulations and limited government support for reforms. Yet, it can be a useful tool to create demand for reforms and to build consensus and local ownership in policy making processes. Most importantly, advocacy can advance private sector participation in policy making by creating an entry point for genuine dialogue and partnership with government agencies. The ultimate reward is to have improved democratic governance with real, open, and transparent business participation in policy making, that produces more sensible and workable reforms that are good for MSMEs competitiveness and growth.
To this end, NICOP organized a national dialogue on the CTG policy. This was a multi-stakeholder consultative meeting for proactive business engagement to foster constructive relations with government agencies on the implementation milestones for the CTG policy sector and its impacts on MSMEs. The forum, therefore, commended NICOP for bringing together for the first time in Nigeria critical stakeholders from the different subsectors to speak in one voice and under one umbrella to review the policy and chart the way forward for a new policy. The stakeholders recognized NICOP support for the development and capacity building assistance to business associations to reap the benefits of informed business inputs to policy development. And called for additional training on advocacy techniques, public consultation mechanisms and political economy analysis, as well as capacity building assistance on organization/business association management, coalition building, leadership and media relations.
The event, which took place in Abuja on Tuesday, April 12, 2022, was opened by the Hon. Minister of State, Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment (FMITI), who was represented by his Special Assistant, Mr. Phillips Omokaro. He welcomed participants and specially appreciated the European Union and GIZ for the support to the CTG sector and by extension to the FMITI who is the custodian of the CTG policy, and therefore pledged government commitments for further collaborations on issues of capacity building for the cotton, textiles and garments sector in Nigeria and other private sector development programmes. The highlight of the event was the commitment from key stakeholders like Central Bank of Nigeria and the Development Bank of Nigeria to support the establishment of a CTG Council to mobilize resources and drive the growth of the sector. The dialogue also cemented the birth of the CTG forum which is to strengthen business advocacy and support regulations that improve CTG’s competitive position in the regional and international markets. It is also to facilitate an effective business-government relationship for the NICOP value chains in Nigeria particularly in the garments sector.
The National Dialogue also had in attendance the representative of the Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria, Bank of Industry (BOI), Nigerian Office for Trade Negotiations (NOTN), Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Nigeria Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC), National Productivity Centre (NPC), Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC) NEXIM Bank, Development Bank of Nigeria (DBN), Keystone Bank. Others were members and leaders of the National Cotton Association of Nigeria (NACOTAN), Nigeria Textiles Manufacturers Association (NTMA), Cotton Ginners Association of Nigeria (CGAN), Cotton Producers and Merchants Association (COPMA), and the Garments and Accessories Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (GAMAN).
The dialogue emphasised that business membership associations act as the voice of their members and promote market reforms that serve the whole business community, and that these associations can create real momentum for reform through advocacy because they are in daily contact with companies and are in a better position to understand systematic regulatory constraints on businesses. They further reiterated that it is the BMOs that can explain pragmatically why a certain regulation or policy is problematic and suggest a credible solution supported by a coalition of associations like the CTG Development Forum and a broad constituency of stakeholders for the government to effect reforms.
“The Nigeria Competitiveness Project, NICOP, is implemented under the GIZ SEDIN programme and it is co-financed by the European Union and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)”