The Companies Allied Matters (CAM) Bill has passed the third reading at the Federal House of Representatives. The Bill, which was passed by the Senate in 2018 is the largest business reform bill to be passed in Nigeria in over 28 years, as it represents the re-enactment of the existing Companies and Allied Matters Act 1990 (CAMA).
The CAM Bill signifies meaningful progress towards aligning business practices, which had been heavily constrained by several provisions in the old 1990 Act, with global standards as it speaks to all matters affecting a company, from incorporation to winding up and insolvency. The Bill directly affects the influx of foreign direct investment (FDI) into Nigeria due to its relevance to the ease of doing business and investing in Nigeria.
According to the legislative brief of the new Bill, it has new features that will make doing business in Nigeria a lot easier. “In order for Nigeria to improve its standing in World Bank Doing Business (WBDB) Ranking Index, it needs to improve on its ease of establishing and running businesses and bring its business legal regime in tandem with modern advances,” the legislative brief explained.
A key thrust of the Bill is therefore aimed at simplifying the process of starting and growing a business in Nigeria by abolishing the requirement for a company to have authorized share capital, enabling a single person to form a private company, introducing for the first time a business rescue process, and introducing the concept of limited liability partnership.
It also ensures more appropriate regulation for micro, small and medium scale enterprises, by making it optional for smaller companies to have a company secretary, comply with accounting requirements, and for one-man and small companies to hold an annual general meeting, as well as introducing separate models of articles of association for private companies.
In line with Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) mandate, this re-enactment is a strong demonstration of the Administration’s commitment to improving the business environment, and ultimately Nigeria's competitiveness. The passage of the Bill was promoted by the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), and was made possible through the collaborative efforts of several public and private sector stakeholders supported by the Enabling Business Environment Secretariat (EBES), including the Senate, the House of Representatives, the National Assembly Business Environment Roundtable (NASSBER), the Nigerian Economic Summit Group, and a number of leading commercial law firms in Nigeria.
“We congratulate every Nigerian on this achievement, and we applaud the several partners that came together in partnership to make this work. We look forward to receiving the Bill for Mr President’s assent, and we are confident of the benefits this will bring to businesses to drive exponential growth in the next few years.”
Some other benefits of the landmark reform Bill include the promotion of policies that will enhance the regulatory environment for growth of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), reduce entry barriers for smaller businesses, enhance transparency and shareholder engagement, align regulatory frameworks with international best practice for competitiveness, and increase the efficiency of the regulatory process in line with today’s realities.
Further benefits are faster and cheaper registration of companies limited by guarantee, easier authentication of documents, prevention of asset shielding, and combating money laundering, terrorism financing or other illicit or criminal activities using companies as vehicles; among others.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Industry, Trade and Investment (OVP) /Secretary, Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council