Wednesday, September 21Inside Business Africa

FG suspends issuance of license to free trade zone operators

The Federal government has suspended the issuance of licenses to operators at the free trade zones (FTZ) in the country. Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo, announced the suspension on Monday in Abuja. It was conveyed via a statement signed by the Minister’s Special Assistant on Media, Ifedayo Sayo.

Adebayo, who stated this during the inauguration of the panel set up for the evaluation of the performance of FTZs, said all applications for FTZ licenses will no longer be processed pending the completion of the panel’s assignment.

He noted that the key objective of the panel is aimed to provide concrete recommendations and reshape the government’s strategies to reposition the FTZs based on a thorough evaluation of current operations.

The panel, which is headed by the Minister, is expected to work on the terms of references provided to enable it to deliver a clear and detailed report within eight weeks of inauguration.

The panel will map out and implement clear strategies to evaluate the operations of recipients of FTZ licenses to deliver world-class zones as expected under the Presidential Priority Projects (PPP).

The Minister lamented that FTZs in the country have not met the expectations in terms of impacting positively on the industrial development of the country as witnessed in developed countries.

He said: “It is important to note that FTZs in most developed countries have contributed successfully towards the industrialisation process. The model was adopted by the Asian Tigers and today most countries, including African countries are beginning to key into the idea.

“Nigeria through the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, has begun delivery of world-class FTZs across the country. However, due to poor implementation, we are yet to take delivery of the dynamic potential of FTZs as an instrument for economic growth.”

The Minister disclosed that Nigeria presently has 33 licensed FTZ operators in the country but added that due to poor implementation only 12 are operational.

“Currently, the performance of FTZs licensees has been below expectation and this heavily impacts our ability to deliver on crucial priority areas of the government. FTZs are key to the country’s industrialization drive, they will have a significant impact on Nigeria’s trade and economic fortunes.

“Globally, FTZs account for 68 million jobs and generate $500 billion annually. The sector can be extremely lucrative if executed efficiently, and we must aim to improve the operation of the zones.”

Source: Guardian

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