Lekki Free Trade Zone, in Lagos

Entrepreneurship: Investors threaten to divest over proposed FTZ reforms in Nigeria

*Investors have described the proposed reform as ‘a ploy to destroy multi-million Naira private investment in the free zones in the country’

Emmanuel Akosile | ConsumerConnect

Following the Federal Government’s proposal to transfer supervision of such private sector investment to Nigerian Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA), and Oil and Gas Free Zone Authority (OGFZA) located in Onne, Rivers State, investors have threatened to divest from the Integrated Free Trade Zone (FTZ) located on Snake Island, in Lagos State.

ConsumerConnect learnt Yusufu Abdullahi, Director of the Snake Island Integrated Free Trade Zone, in a recent statement said this on behalf of the investors.

Free Trade Zones are areas in which businesses are exempted from the normal regulatory regime applicable in the country.

Otunba Niyi Adebayo, Honourable Minister for Industry, Trade and Investment 

The government also expects such companies and organisations to boost national exports, create jobs and help in diversifying the country’s economy by bringing in new activities at such facilities.

The Federal Government, the statement noted, had established both the Nigerian Export Processing Zones Authority and the Oil and Gas Free Zone Authority for effective management of the general and specialised free trade zones.

The Director of the Snake Island Integrated Free Trade Zone maintained the government’s move comes as the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment (FMITI) had proposed to transfer supervision of such private sector investment from NEPZA to OGFZA.

The statement said the investors described the proposed reform as “a ploy to destroy multi-million naira private investment in the free zones.”

The stakeholders in the free zones also explained that FMITI had directed NEPZA to transfer five selected free zones (Dangote Industries Free Zone, LADOL Free Zone, Snake Island Integrated Free Zone, Tomato Industrial Park, and Olokola Oil and Gas Free Trade Zone) regulated by the authority to OGFZA.

The statement, however, said that NEPZA refused to comply with the Ministry’s directive.

They urged NEPZA’s Board to meet with the stakeholders in order “to listen to our concerns on this issue and collate coordinated views and inform FMITI before going to FEC with a memo.

“The course of action is to prevent possible disinvestment in the Free Zone Scheme because the affected Zones are all Private Sector Direct Investment without a single government grants.

“It is not possible for private sector investment to be transferred into an unknown unlegislated institution ‘OGFZA’.

“White Paper cannot be substitute to National Assembly constitutional powers and authority to legislation.”

Abdullahi added: “In conclusion, Membership of the Committee are Political Office Holders and Public Servants who do not have investment in the free trade zone but are willing to frustrate and destroy billions of dollars of private investment collaboration in the scheme.

“It is self-interest composed Committee that is not ready to advance Nigeria progress and development but advance personal interest.”

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