The Managing Director of the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA), Prof. Adesoji Adesugba had reiterated that the free trade zone scheme in the country was a presidential initiative aimed at propelling economic growth through local production.
Adesugba said this while speaking with some operators of enterprises in the Calabar Free Trade Zone on Wednesday in the Cross Rivers State Capital.
The managing director, who is on official tour of the zone, said President Muhammadu Buhari was fully committed to ensuring the success of the scheme.
He explained that the Federal Government was aware of the challenges associated with zones’ operations, adding, however, that it considered the prospects and gains to far out-weigh those challenges.
Adesugba, however, said the public and private sectors must agree to work together in order to jointly solve some of the problems negating the smooth operations of the scheme in the country.
According to him, arrangement to upgrade electricity supplies to both Calabar and Kano free trade zones directly managed by the government has reached advance stage.
``The private zones are gradually out-growing the challenges of power and water supplies; the president is, therefore, committed to making the public zones enjoy similar infrastructural stability’’, he said.
Adesugba also said enterprises in the zones must be allowed to enjoy free tax regime as espoused by the drafters of the concept.
``We must ensure that the public understands the true meaning of the scheme which is simply a business enclave out of the customs area. The enterprises operating in the zones are not taxable. This is an aspect where the various tax agencies must come to terms with.
`` The scheme could affect government revenue generation in a short term, but would boost local production, create employment, attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) for industrialisation in the long run’’, the managing director said.
Furthermore, the NEPZA boss urged the staff of the Authority in the zone to develop a renewed vigour toward helping in executing the agency’s mandate, adding that the management would no longer condone ineptitude behaviour from any members of the workforce.
Adesugba, who assumed office as Chief Executive Officer of the Authority about three months ago, had embarked on similar familiarisation tour to Kano and Lagos zones respectively.
The managing director’s Wednesday’s activity was climaxed by a dinner where zone operators, stakeholders, and representatives of some security agencies including the Nigerian Customs Service and the Nigeria Police Force met to suggest ways that could optimize the gains of the scheme.