Buhari scores free zones high

President Muhammadu Buhari, on Tuesday said Nigeria has deployed Free Trade Zones (FTZs) as launch-pad for economic development and growth.

He said this during the inauguration of Kano Free Trade Zone new administrative building and Nigeria Special Economic Zones Institute.

Buhari, represented by the state Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Maryam Katagum, said that in the last seven years, the free trade zones scheme had been repositioned in infrastructure development to attain global competitiveness.

He said that the scheme had contributed enormously to the execution of the economic policies of the present administration.

According to him, this includes designation of six special economic zones, four international airports as free trade zones and attraction of investments worth $30 billion.

“The zones have attracted over $30 billion in investments which is expected to increase in the next few years with sustained incentives and aggressive investment drive.

“Incentives in the free trade zones includes tax free operations, free fiscal duty for imported goods, machinery and equipment, exemption from levies.

“The presence of key enterprises in the zones is an attestation to the fact that FTZs are contributing immensely to the growth and industrialisation of the Nigerian economy.

“Under this administration, there has been geometric increase in the number of FTZs from 21 to 46,” the president said.

Earlier, Prof. Adesoji Adesugba, the Managing Director, Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA), commended the Federal Government for the confidence reposed on the authority as the vanguard deploying FTZs scheme to expedite economic development.

Adesugba, also pointed out  achievements of the present administration which included; starting development of the largest U.S. consulate in the world at Eko Atlantic free zone, Lagos.

”It is estimated at 500 million dollars and will employ about 1,500 Nigerians in five years,” he said..

Also, Sen. Sabo Nakudu, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Trade and Investment said that the completion of ultra modern administrative office and free trade zone training institute was the hard work and dedication of NEPZA.

He said that in the past seven years, the committee had ensured unstoppable development of infrastructure in the free zones across the country.

Nakudu also commended the Federal Government for giving FTZs scheme the needed support and funding to drive  industrialisation process in a more pragmatic manner.

The chairman of Kano FTZ investors forum, Alhaji Umar Marshall, appealed to the minister to clarify issue on the planned concession of Kano and calabar free zones and how it would affect investors.

Marshall also commended the Federal Government for its support and commitment and appealed to the minister to carry the forum along in the planned concessioning of Calabar and Kano free zones.