ABUJA (Sundiata Post) – The Managing Director of the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority, NEPZA, Prof. Adesoji Adesugba has reiterated that the present huge investments in the nation’s economy by private operators of the Free Trade Zones, (FTZs) remained a positive indicator of the scheme’s capacity to significantly contribute to growth and development.
Adesugba made the remark when the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the First Bank Nigeria Plc, Dr Adesola Adetuntan paid him a courtesy call on Tuesday in Abuja.
The NEPZA boss explained that there was great prospect to scale up the investment profile speedily when the ideals of the scheme were better promoted.
The managing director said the system could attract more investors and work better when enterprises operating in the zones were not threatened with tariffs, duties and other sundry taxes, adding that such development could truncate the essence of the scheme.
Adesugba also said the free trade zone concept was aimed at encouraging local production, stimulating job creation, attracting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and igniting industrialization process, adding that the system had a longer gestation period.
He explained that the Authority was strategic in executing its mandate, adding however that the agency was prepared to partner with the private sector for speedy execution of outlined strategic plans.
“NEPZA will remain strategic in executing its plans to ensure smooth transition of our strategic plans. From the indices before us, we can do better. Our staffers have been made to understand that the government relies on us to show the direction toward the industrialization of the country’’, he said.
Also, the NEZPA chief executive reiterated the need for the approval of offshore banking for enterprises operating in the zones, adding that the current practice where they competed with firms outside of the zones for foreign exchange was affecting their operations.
“I am aware the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN is working to ensure that happens. We are hoping that the committee handling that process could expedient action on it.
“The zone cannot function without the presence of banks that provide the enterprises with peculiar needs such as seamless access to forex. The zone is a peculiar business community. In fact it’s like a country of its own that requires the presence of all types of financial institutions to function optimally’’, Adesugba said.
Adetuntan had expressed delight on Adesugba’s appointment as the NEPZA chief executive, adding that he (Adesugba) was an accomplished investment promotion expert.
He also said that many countries had leveraged on the free trade zone scheme to steer growth and development, adding that Nigeria was on the right track to achieving same.
The chief executive of First bank further said that the bank would be pleased to partner with the Authority for mutual benefits.