The Managing Director of the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA), Prof. Adesoji Adesugba has urged the Organised Private Sector (OPS) to patronise free trade zones across the country to ward-off widespread business uncertainty brought about by Covid-19 pandemic.
Adesugba made the call when he paid a courtesy visit on the President, Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA, Hajia Saratu Aliyu on Monday in Abuja.
Mr Dele Oye, 2nd Deputy President of the association, Prince Adetokunbo Kayode, SAN, President, Abuja Chambers of Commerce and Industry were other officials of the orgnaised private sector at hand to receive the NEPZA boss.
Adesugba, was before his appointment the National Legal Adviser of NACCIMA.
The NEPZA boss said the industrialization of the country could be achieved faster if government and the Private Sector work together, adding that NEPZA will continue to partner with the Private Sector.
``NEPZA holds a double status as a facilitator and promoter of investments’ free business environment and a regulator that ensures compliance to standards.
``The organization that I head was set up to manage and regulate free trade zones. The free trade zone is the only business enclave now that guarantees nearness to markets dislocated by a strain in global transportation and logistics against devastating effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
``The pandemic as we are aware continues to distort business logistics globally and so, global investors are looking for workable free trade zones to move into. Doing so would guarantee the preservation of the supply chains and their investments,’’ Adesugba said.
He, therefore, urged the business community to consider patronizing the country’s 42 free trade zones with a view to reducing the negative impact of the prevailing pandemic on their businesses.
``The supply chain management is going to be critical as Covid-19 has changed business logistics, but if we can take advantage of the various incentives which include tax holiday, absence of customs duties and absence of several other multiple taxes charged outside of the zones then our businesses can stay afloat,’’ Adesugba said.
The NEPZA chief executive further said the Authority was working assiduously to introduce variety of Economic Special Zones (ESZ), adding that Medical, Solid Mineral, Agriculture and Technology were to be considered.
Adesugba explained that the establishment of Constituency Industrial Parks in the over 300 Federal Constituencies were also been contemplated, adding that the Authority could only achieve the industrialization of the country with the active participation of the organized private sector.
The NEPZA boss, however, expressed delight on the business knowledge and exposure he garnered while being An active member of the association, promising that he will use his experience to deliver positively as head of the agency.
Earlier, the NACCIMA president had thanked President Muhammadu Buhari for appointing a member of the association as NEPZA chief executive as according to her, the president’s eyes have gone for the best in investment promotion and management in the country.
Aliyu said Adesugba’s commitment to excellence, transparency, Due process and probity would make him reposition NEPZA as the pride of the country.
She further explained that members of the association were prepared to collaborate and support the Authority to achieve its mandate, adding that the country’s free trade zone scheme remained secured for investors and should be exploited.
On his part, Prince Adetokunbo Kayode SAN said the Abuja Chambers of Commerce and Industry would support Adesugba to have a successful tenure in NEPZA, adding that the chambers had approved that NEPZA become an automatic member of the chambers’ Council.
``We want to broaden our operations, we hope that when we come asking for NEPZA’s partnership and support, it will be there for us. We are indeed grateful to government for appointing our man as head of this very important agency,’’ the former Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation said.
Kayode also agreed with Adesugba’s plans towards creating more Special Economic Zones, as according to him, the organized private sector will help by deploying expertise for the actualization of the country’s industrialization.
NEPZA officials were taken on inspection tour of the association’s Business Entrepreneurship Skills and Technology (BEST) Center, Gemological Institute of Nigeria (GIN) and the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development Jewellery Center respectively.
The highpoint of the visit was the decoration of the NEPZA chief executive as NACCIMA Ambassador.