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FDI: Govt Must Liberalize Real Estate Sector To Attract Investors – FIABCI

The International Real Estate Federation (FIABCI) has said except the economy is liberalised and agencies of government are made to complement one another in services delivery, the much desired Foreign Direct investment (FDI) into the sector may not come.

FIABCI, however, noted that government agencies constitute obstacles to real sector development. Its World President, Assen Makedonov, who spoke at FIABCI International conference in Lagos during the week with the theme: “Ease of Doing Business: Attracting real fund into our real estate and the importance of the property scorecard”, said he may not come back to the country if he was an investor because of the stress he was put through to get into the country. One of such experience, he noted, was getting Visa.

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He urged the government to liberalise VISA processing, approval and ensure that relevant agencies work together to achieve the ‘ease of doing business’ rather than act in ways that do not encourage trade. He recalled his experience in coming to the country from Bulgaria last week as unpalatable

According to Makedonov, no genuine investor will go through the bureaucracy, the odious task of getting visa, the unnecessary questioning and delays from the Nigerian Embassy and would not look for an alternative country to invest his funds.

Last year, he said, the city of Barcelona welcomed over 81 million tourists and wondered if the case would not have been different if the tourists had encountered any encumbrance in the process of entering Spain. He added that any country ready for business and FDI is known by how easy and pleasurable it is for visitors to enter it.

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He encouraged less of human interface with government agencies assigned with the responsibility of approving land titles, permits and others in real estate sector, noting that except that is done the growth of the sector will still be hindered.

FIABCI, he said, is in the country to focus on all the factors that enable and enhance real estate development. The FIABCI boss argued that any country that does not take real estate sector development serious will have stunted growth.

FIABCI past president, Mr. Farook Mamood, who was also at the conference, canvassed the need to discourage bureaucracy and red tapism. He said: “Make things as simple as possible for the real estate sector that is the only way the GDP of Nigeria will grow. In India we have what we call “speed money’, which any investor, who wants his application to move from point one to two must comply with. Though it’s not official it has come to stay, but my advice to government of Nigerian is to make the sector work by ensuring that any real estate investor is not confronted with obstacles that will discourage his investing in the country.”

Earlier, FIABCI country president, Mr. Adeniji Adele, said experts in the real estate industry have over time blamed policy inconsistencies, delay in legal process, affordability and cumbersome title registration process, poor state of infrastructure, social amenities and inadequate access to finance for the slow progress recorded by the sector in our country. He commended the government for introducing reforms through the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) as evidenced by World Bank’s 2018 Ease of Doing Business Index, where Nigeria ranked 145th out of 190 countries.

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FIABCI, he revealed, has realised that effective collaborations among players in the private and public sectors have the capacity to create enabling growth path to the nation’s economic development. According to him, this will enhance the ease of doing more businesses within and among industry professionals locally and in the Diaspora.

He encouraged his colleagues to practice the core elements of property business with integrity such as property rights, access to credit, effective governance, rational dispute, financial transparency and appropriate regulation.

Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Physical Planning, Mrs Boladele Dapo-Thomas, said the state has come out with reforms in the sector with provision for approvals that take between 10 to 28 days unlike the old order. She regretted that one of the challenges faced by her ministry was the third party documentation influence. She frowned at how some people are reluctant in trying out the reforms, despite the fact that the state has reformed the sector. She said those who do not want to change with the reform are looking for how to exploit loopholes that will help them avoid paying statutory fees and obeying town planning laws.

The Permanent Secretary said her ministry has put enough measure in place in the state to enhance the sector by making approval processes less cumbersome for practitioners and property owners to acquire their legal titles for their properties.

Earlier, Senior Special Assistant to Vice President on Industry, Trade & Investment, Jumoke Oduwale, said the nation’s performance on ‘Ease of Doing Business index’ is a testimony to the government’s measured response to creating an enabling environment.

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Oduwale, who was represented by Soji Akinyele, explained that over the past two years her office has worked with Lagos and Kano states in addition to other 34 states to advance the ease of doing business reforms. She said the government has made available 126 reforms in the last 36 months and other procedures to ensure quality interaction with civil servants by developers and other private sectors operating in the sector.

The reforms, she said, they included quality of transparency of information available to the public, ensuring that state government’s make available and put in the public domain a guide to acquire building and construction permit and titles to document.

She encouraged the public to test the reforms while interacting with the various government agencies and further explained that the public and operators in the sector have the right to seek redress if not satisfied with the services rendered by various organs of government

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