The Managing Director of the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA), Prof. Adesoji Adesugba, has appealed to the Organized Private Sector (OPS), to patronize the country’s free trade zones to ward-off widespread business uncertainty brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Adesugba argued that Nigeria’s industrialization can be achieved faster if the government and the private sector worked together. He made the call in Abuja, when he paid a courtesy visit to the President, Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), Saratu Aliyu, which was also attended by the 2nd Deputy President, NACCIMA, Dele Oye; and President, Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), Adetokunbo Kayode.
Adesugba, the former National Legal Adviser to NACCIMA, said: “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 the devastating effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The pandemic, as we are aware, continues to distort business logistics globally, and 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.”
He, therefore, urged the business community to consider patronizing the 42 free trade zones with a view to reducing the negative impact of the 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 duty, and absence of several other multiple taxes charged outside of the zones then our businesses can stay afloat,” Adesugba said.
He further said the Authority was working assiduously to introduce a variety of Economic Special Zones (ESZ), adding that medical, solid minerals, agriculture and technology would be considered.
He disclosed that the establishment of Constituency Industrial Parks in the over 300 Federal Constituencies were also being contemplated, adding that these can only be achieved with the active participation of the private sector.
Earlier, Aliyu thanked President Muhammadu Buhari for appointing a NACCIMA member as NEPZA Chief Executive, while acknowledging Adesugba’s commitment to excellence, transparency, due process and probity.
She reassured the Association’s preparedness to collaborate and support the Authority to achieve its mandate, adding that Nigeria’s free trade zone scheme is secure for investors, and should be exploited.
Similarly, Adetokunbo Kayode, a former Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, also pledged the Abuja Chambers support for Adesugba’s successful tenure in NEPZA, adding that the Chamber has adopted NEPZA as an automatic member of its Council.
He said: “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 the government for appointing our man as head of this very important agency.”
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.