FG Aims To Be Among Top 100 On Ease Of Doing Business

President Muhammadu Buhari has assured that Nigeria will be one of the most attractive and easiest places to do business in the world by 2019.  Nigeria is currently ranked 169 out of 189 countries according to World Bank’s 2016 Ease of Doing Business report.
Buhari said his administration was implementing policies and measures aimed at making Nigeria one of the top investment destinations in the world, within the shortest possible time.
“We believe government has a particular responsibility to create right and attractive environment for businesses and economic activities to thrive.
“In furtherance of this vision, we have launched the Presidential Enabling Environment Council (PEEC) and Inter-Ministerial Council to oversee the efforts of government to remove various bottlenecks that stifle businesses and economic activities and, thereby, create economic activities and the right enabling environment and investment climate in Nigeria.
“The secretariat will include strong private sector representation that would be led by experienced business professionals from the private sector.
“We are committed to moving up the ranking of the World Bank’s ease of doing business index 20 places in first year and be in the top 100 within the next three years,” he said.
Buhari has also pledged to vote  more resources to agriculture in the 2017 budget in his administration’s effort to sustain concrete measures towards diversifying the economy.
He made the pledge while fielding questions from reporters in Nairobi, Kenya, at the weekend on the sidelines of the sixth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD VI).
The president also requested increased participation of the Japanese government and the private sector in the Nigerian economy. He said Africa had a lot to learn from Japan on developing agriculture.
“This year, in Nigeria, we started an aggressive farming programme that entails organising farmers into cooperatives in the second and third tier of government.
“We intend to put more resources in our 2017 budget, especially, in the procurement of machinery for land clearing, fertilisers, pesticides and training of less-educated farmers, as farm extension instructors.
“We have already registered some success this year in a number of states; we identified some 13 states that will be self-sufficient in rice, wheat and grains before the end of 2018.
“We are very positive that soon we will be able to export these food products. We are also lucky that the farming season in the northern part of the country has been very good and we are expecting a bumper harvest this year,” he said.
On the lessons he is taking away from TICAD, the president said Japan’s story of rapid economic growth, hard work and advanced technology should encourage Africans to strive harder and solve its development challenges.
“Japan has greatly advanced in technology, particularly, in solar power, infrastructure to spur growth in medium and small-scale industries. Because of the advanced use of technology, farming and agriculture can become competitive.
“Japan has the knowledge, technology and capital to assist African countries to develop and Japanese firms are in a very good position to successfully compete for the development of infrastructure in Nigeria,” he said.

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France Aims To Ease Religious Fears After Church Attack

President Francois Hollande sought Wednesday to head off divisions between France’s religious communities after the jihadist-claimed murder of a Catholic priest in his church, as calls mounted for tougher security measures.

Hollande gathered top religious leaders at his Elysee Palace offices, as a violence-weary France struggled to come to terms with the latest attack, just two weeks after the Bastille Day truck massacre that killed 84 people.

France’s large Catholic community was in shock after two men stormed into a church in the northern town of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray during morning mass and cut the 86-year-old priest’s throat at the altar.

One of the two attackers was identified as French jihadist Adel Kermiche, who was awaiting trial on terror charges and had been fitted with an electronic tag.

“We are stunned because we did not know it was dangerous to be a priest these days in France,” said Pierre Amar, a priest from Versailles near Paris.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls has warned that the goal of the attack, claimed by Islamic State jihadists, was to “set the French people against each other, attack religion in order to start a war of religions”.

Following the meeting with Hollande, the head of France’s Muslim community — the largest in Europe — urged stepped-up security at places of worship.

“We deeply desire that our places of worship are the subject of greater (security) focus, a sustained focus,” said Dalil Boubakeur.

In the name of French Muslims, he voiced his “deep grief” at the attack which he described as a “blasphemous sacrilege which goes against all the teachings of our religion”.

Credit: Guardian