The Managing Director of Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority ( NEPZA), Professor Adesoji Adesugba has assured operators of free trade zones in the country of an active and result oriented stakeholders’ engagement.
In an interactive zoom meeting with more than 30 Chief Executive Officers of free trade and special economic zones in the country, Adesugba noted that the challenges facing efficient operations of the zones can only be resolved by productive engagement among agencies with mandate touching on the sub-sector.
” I understand all the knotty issues you are facing. I am committing myself to a well structured interaction and collaborative partnership with the Customs service, Immigration, FIRS and all sister agencies to iron out outstanding issues.
” Our first task is to go back to the basics of why the FTZs and SEZs were set up in the first place. We will then proceed to reviewing why the FTZs and SEZs must work at this critical time of looming economic recession. It will also interest all stakeholders to note our operating environment now with the imminent coming into force of AFCTA and associated stiff competition for Foreign Direct Investment.
” The zones must work because Nigeria must manufacture and produce goods for export now more than any other time. In a free trade regime, you must export goods or you become a dumping ground. For us to manufacture , we must enable investment by creating the right climate. If we dont create enabling environment, investors will head to other jurisdictions. More critically, we need the zones to create jobs and escape the building time bomb created by deepening unemployment. So we have good reasons why other stakeholders must listen to resolve the operational challenges facing the FTZs and SEZs”, Adesugba, a former Custom officer said.
While also calling on the operators to play by the rule, the NEPZA Chief called for good faith and compliance with operating rules even as he emphasised his credential as an experienced investment promotion specialist.
The operators who spoke separately during the webinar expressed relief that the President has appointed an all round professional who has theoretical and practical understanding of the sub-sector, noting that they were elated the management is now led by an Industry player.
The operators listed some of their challenges to include taxation burden, multiple regulatory structures, offshore banking issues, infrastructure deficit and others.
The NEPZA management and the operators agreed to be holding a quarterly review meeting to resolved operational challenges.