By Anthony Areh
The Nigerian Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) has urged the Federal Government and Private Sector to ensure that the Free Trade Zone scheme is strengthened through improved legal framework and global best practices.
Alhaji Adamu Fanda, newly-appointed Chairman of NEPZA Board, made the call during his first official visit to the authority’s headquarters on Tuesday in Abuja.
Fanda, in a statement by Mr Martins Odeh Head, Corporate Communications, NEPZA, said for Nigeria to catch up on genuine economic growth and industrialisation, the scheme must be strengthened through sustained investments.
The chairman said that a well implemented Free Trade Zone (FTZ) regime had proven to be a catalyst for manufacturing and economic growth in several parts of the world.
He said that the country must ramp up its empowerment of NEPZA through urgent legal reforms.
Fanda said it must also do so through compliance by all government agencies to the provision of the authority’s Act that allowed operations in zones to be tax free.
“China, Dubai, Japan and South Korea are great examples of how special economic zones can be used to increase manufacturing capacity and deepen foreign exchange earnings.
“African countries like South Africa, Egypt, Kenya and our neighbour, Ghana, are deploying the model to great advantage.
“Nigeria cannot be an exception. FTZs must work to fulfil President Muhammadu Buhari’s agenda for an industrialised Nigeria”, Fanda said.
He pledged to support the management of the authority with due process and accountability to realise its mandate, and promised extensive advocacy in support of the FTZs.
The chairman said that the management would find in the board an ever-willing body devoted to smooth and open process to drive expansion of free zones for the development of Nigeria.
On his part, NEPZA Managing Director, Prof. Adesoji Adesugba, described Fanda’s appointment as timely and a commendable decision in the best interest of the authority and the country.
Adesugba described the chairman as an experienced private and public sector figure.
He noted that several critical decisions and issues could now be addressed to advance ongoing reforms of the agency.
Commending President Muhammadu Buhari for the appointment of Fanda, Adesugba said: “Going by his antecedent and records, we all share the vision of the President for a new Nigeria with strong industrial sector, creating jobs and attracting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).’’
“We are even more elated that our chairman is not just a product of the private sector, but has strong links and contacts as a former member of the legislature.
“ As we launch our legislative agenda for the amendment of NEPZA Act to address loopholes in the authority’s legal framework and update it in line with current realities, we will be relying heavily on the chairman’s goodwill to fast track the process’’, Adesugba said.
The managing director stated that the paramount goal was to ensure the realisation of the authority’s mandate.