Tuesday, 3 June 2014

FG Restates Commitment to Support Free Trade Zones.

 Minister of Industries Trade and Investments, Mr. Olusegun Agagu 
The Federal government has restated its commitment to ensure continued support of the various Free Zones in the country so as to maximise their job creation potentials as well as facilitate trade and the much needed Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs).
Speaking at the weekend during a facility tour of the Lagos Deep Offshore Logistics (LADOL) base in Apapa, the Minister of Industries Trade and Investments, Mr. Olusegun Agagu stated that it was in the overall interest of the nation’s economy to support, promote and nurture Free Trade Zones.
He observed that the operators are so far satisfied with the level of patronage offered by government, but that what the Free Zones, adding however, that what the Free Zones promoters are clamoring for was for government to stick to the implementation of the laws guiding their operations.
The minister, who was accompanied by the Managing Director of the Nigerian Free Zones Enterprises (NEPZA), Mr. Gbenga Kuye, further stated that the operations of Free Zones in Nigeria are guided by the NEPZA Act as well as the Nigerian Content Act 2010.
“The NEPZA Act setting them up has already guaranteed them all the necessary governments’ encouragements to make them operate optimally. The whole idea is to be able to attract investors to these one-stop-shops and create jobs. So, what we need to do as government is to make sure that all those things in paper are fully implemented,” he added.
The Managing Director of LADOL, Dr. Amy Jadesimi, in her welcome address lauded the continued encouragement and support being offered by government in sustaining the free zones.
She pointed out that the government’s positive steps in promoting enterprises such as LADOL have been made manifest through industrial revival plan embarked upon by government.
“We thank the Honourable Minister for Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr. Olusegun Aganga, for the enabling environment he has created so far and the encouragement provided for indigenous Nigerians through the Industrial Revival Plan. We at LADOL have pledged to continue to do our part to help make that plan a reality, through our continued investment in building critical and strategically important infrastructure” she said.
Jadesimi informed the minister that the infrastructure development at LADOL has resulted in “job multiplier of over 15times, through the development of related industries such as steel manufacturing and engineering.
She restated her belief in human capital development as a way of creating wealth, adding that  such ventures “must go hand in hand with physical capital development – which is why we are pushing ahead to build our training school in LADOL, with the overall aim of filling the skills gap in high value industries, allowing products currently not manufactured in Africa to be built in Nigeria for the first time, by Nigerians in a Nigerian facility”.
She called on the federal government to create a level playing field that allows for free and fair access to the market to all investors and operators, particular indigenous investors, whom she said, had been excluded in the past.
According to her, government should actively encourage the use of indigenous investors’ developed facilities, enforce the local content act to its fullest, and encourage collaboration amongst private infrastructure developers.
In his reaction to the request of the LADOL boss, the minister pointed out that government’s encouragement to the sector was already yielding dividends with the level of jobs being created at LADOL and similar facilities, by localising skill acquisition and stemming capital flight.
“Some of the things that would have been taken away to South Korea and other countries are now being done in here in Nigeria, thanks to the Nigerian Content Act. The Nigerian content Act has further strengthened the supports, and we are keying into that to ensure that local investors get their fair share. We even go beyond that and in some cases; we had to go abroad with them to help solve some investment problems. Some of the investors have taken us to several countries to help talk to groups of foreign investors they are putting to gather. We talk to them about the benefits of investing in these free zones and essentially why they should be in Nigeria. So, we are even acting as marketers for them” he explained. (Source - ThisDay)

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