By Chris Ndibe
Prof. Adesoji Adesugba, Managing Director of Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA), has assured operators of Free Trade Zones (FTZs) of an active and result-oriented stakeholders’ engagement.
A statement by Mr Martins Odeh Head, Corporate Communications, NEPZA on Sunday in Abuja, said Adesugba aknowledged all the knotty issues the FTZs and SEZs operators were facing.
He said that challenges facing efficient operations of the zones could be resolved by productive engagement among agencies with mandate touching on the sub-sector.
“I am committing myself to a well-structured interaction and collaborative partnership with the Nigeria Customs Service, Nigeria Immigration Service, Federal Inland Revenue Service 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 AfCFTA and associated stiff competition for Foreign Direct Investment,” he said.
Adesugba noted that the zones must work, because Nigeria must manufacture and produce goods for export now more than any other time.
The NEPZA boss also said for Ngeria to manufacture well, investment would be enabled by creating the right climate.
He said that without creating enabling environment, investors would 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 said.
The NEPZA chief, while also urging operators to play by the rule, said it was incumbent on all to observe corporate governance and transparency.
He said that such best practice would make the sector become even more attractive.
The statement quoted operators who spoke as expressing relief that President Muhammadu Buhari appointed an all-round professional who had theoretical and practical understanding of the sector to lead the management.
They were quoted as saying that they were elated the management was now led by an industry player.
The operators listed their challenges to include taxation burden, multiple regulatory structures, offshore banking issues, infrastructure deficit, among others.
The NEPZA management and the operators agreed to be holding a quarterly review meeting to resolve operational challenges, the statement said.