Former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Thursday said the introduction of the N5,000 note would kill production and affect small businesses negatively.

Obasanjo, who spoke at a roundtable advocacy forum organised by the Institute of Directors, Nigeria, in Lagos, said the way the Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Lamido Sanusi, was fighting inflation by removing money from circulation was improper.

While speaking on the cost of doing business in the country, Obasanjo called on stakeholders and government agencies to rise up to the challenge.

He said some observers had suggested that the Vision 2020 blueprint was somewhat of an ambitious agenda, which was unrealisable considering the daunting challenges confronting businesses in the country.

Obasanjo said the 2012 annual report of the International Finance Corporation and the World Bank publication titled, ‘Doing business in a more transparent world,’ noted that a record number of African countries took decisive steps to encourage more local entrepreneurs to come into the formal economy over the past 12 years.

He said, “Across the continent, 15 countries lowered barriers to entry for new businesses, 23 facilitated access to credit, and seven made it easier to pay taxes. Nigeria is not in any of these leagues.

“In its 2008 report, Nigeria ranked 108 out of 178 countries and in the space of four years, we rank 137 out of 183 countries measured. This is a damning report on our business environment and, therefore, calls for more concerted efforts by various stakeholders on how to ensure that this trend is reversed and the Nigeria business environment is made more conducive for investments and less costly for businesses to thrive. We cannot aim for 2020 if we do not halt the downward spiral.”

Also at the forum, the Minister of Trade and Investment, Mr. Olusegun Aganga, said nine industrial cities in the country would begin to enjoy uninterrupted electricity supply by the first quarter of 2013.

He said his ministry had made contacts with the Ministry of Power to ensure the provision of electricity to nine cities with high industrial activities.

This, he said, was aimed at reducing the cost of doing business in the country, as well as enhancing the economy, as the nation worked towards realising its Vision 2020 objectives.

“I have discussed with the Minister of Power for the provision of uninterrupted power supply to nine major industrial cities by the end of Q1 next year. The impact of this on our business environment will definitely mean well and this will also help bring down the cost of doing business in Nigeria,” he said.

The minister said his ministry was also working hard to ensure that the company registration process did not exceed 24 hours, as obtainable in some advanced nations.

Punch Nigeria