NEPZA seeks offshore banking for free trade zones

By Felix Khanoba

The Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) says efforts are in top gear to ensure offshore banking regulations are put in place in free trade zones in the country.

The Managing Director of NEPZA, Prof. Adesoji Adesugba, who made this known during a visit to trade zones located in Lagos, said the move would allow enterprises operating in the area to have access to foreign exchange effortlessly.

A statement made available to newsmen in Abuja on Tuesday by NEPZA’s spokesman, Mr Martins Odeh, said Adesugba tasked operators of the zones to constitute themselves into a virile association that could be used to deepen stakeholders’ collaboration and partnership.

Speaking on Dangote Petrochemical Free Trade Zone located in Lekki, the NEPZA boss described the enterprise as a one-world project capable of fast tracking the country’s industrialization process.

The project which sits on 2, 700 hectares of land comprises petroleum refinery-with a capacity to produce 650,000 barrels per day making a total of 32 million ton per annum, Dangote Fertiliser and other sundry manufacturing outfits.

“It is indeed a privilege for this project to be sited in Nigeria, it shows that Alhaji Aliko Dangote had long caught the vision of the country to become self-sustaining in the production of petrochemical products.

“We are fascinated by the energy both the expatriates and local workforce have put into this work so far. The project has opened a vista for technology transfer, massive job creation, training of local Engineers as well as apprenticeship in world class marine and petrochemical engineering procedures.

“Nigeria is however, eager to see the completion of this project which shall open up the economy for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) drive. Dangote has used the free trade zone scheme to sustain the progress of work as all machinery and equipment from abroad to aid the project were tax and duty free.

“There is no gain saying that the project when completed will have multiplier positive effects on our economy and that of Africa, and the world as a whole. This is indeed a one-world project. As an agency, we are committed to supporting and protecting all enterprises in the zones from untoward exploitations,’’ Adesugba was quoted to have said.

He reiterated that the free trade zone concept had guaranteed lofty incentives that included non- payment of taxes, customs duties and such other levies that were hitherto alien to the operation of the scheme.

The NEPZA’s MD, who also visited Alaro City Free Trade Zone, Lagos Free Trade Zone and Lekki Free Trade Zone, expressed satisfaction with the commitment of the drivers of the zones that had ensured the success of the scheme so far.

He explained that all encumbrances against smooth operation of the zones would be gradually removed, even as he assured operators that the NEPZA Act would be amended to ensure more seamless operations in the free trade zones.

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