By Franca Ofili
The Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) says the four trade zones recently established in the country will attract 15 billion dollars worth of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into the nation’s economy.
Mr Emmanuel Jime, Managing Director of NEPZA made this known in Abuja on Thursday during a courtesy visit to his office by Commerce and Industry Correspondents Association of Nigeria (CICAN).
Jime, who went down memory lane on the activities of NEPZA since inception, said only 15 out of the 39 trade zones in the country are currently operational while application for the establishments of additional zones to boost the economy of the country are undergoing various processes.
“”NEPZA has so far licensed 39 free trade zones spread across the country. Of the 39 free trade zones, I regrettably inform that only 15 are truly up and running.
“”The rest are at various stages of construction and operationalization.
“Of these 39, four of them were established recently during the course of my stewardship here.l
“These four zones that were established recently under our watch are reputed to have the capacity of attracting about 15 billion (dollars) worth of foreign direct investment.
“There are many other applications, the last time I checked, close to 10 are either somewhere in the office of the minister leading up to Mr President office or waiting for president declaration,” he said.
Jime said that infrastructural challenges, inter-agency rivalry, location, change of government at the state level were some of the problems affecting the full take off of some of the trade zones.
Jime said only the President has the power to create a trade zone after an application.
Speaking further, the NEPZA boss said the Federal Government has commenced moves to review the organisation’s mandate to make it become an industrial development agency by facilitating the operation and regulation of industrial process, industrial cities and industrial parks.
He said the present administration has increased the funding for capital projects by the agency with N50 billion allocated each for the 2017 and 2018 budgets out of which N20 billion was accessed in 2017, while not less than N5 billion has so far been released from the 2018 allocation.
“Since its inception, it is under President Muhammadu Buhari that NEPZA is receiving its biggest funding for capital allocation. In 2017 about 50 billion was allocated to this authority although because of the budget process the Authority was only able to access N20 billion that was cash-backed.
“This year another N50 billion was allocated and the last time I checked we were only able to access N5billion. This has begun to speak in terms of huge investment, we now invite who want to verify to go to Kano and Calabar free trade zones,” he said.
While confirming plans by government to privatise some of the trade zones, Jime said there was nothing wrong in such action should the legal framework put in place are strictly followed and the welfare of workers are considered.
Earlier, the Chairman of CICAN, Mr Fred Idehai, said the visit was to thank the management of NEPZA for the support to the association, especially during the launch of its compendium recently.
Idehai, however, called on NEPZA to always carry CICAN members along in all its activities to ensure indepth reportage of the organisation’s policies which are fast changing the economic landscape of the country.(NAN)