The Federal Government says it will continue to support free zones operations in the country with a view to maximizing job- creation potential of such enterprises as well as facilitate trade and foreign direct investment.
The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Olusegun Aganga, said this during a facility tour of the Lagos Deep Offshore Logistics base in Apapa recently.
The minister was accompanied on the tour by the Managing Director of the Nigerian Free Zones Enterprises, Mr. Gbenga Kuye.
LADOL is a major oil rig maintenance and repair facility in Nigeria.
Aganga, who stressed that it was in the overall interest of the nation’s economy to support, promote and nurture such enterprises, however pointed out that the operators were so far satisfied with the level of patronage offered by government, but that what the free zones promoters were clamouring for was for government to prudently stick to the implementation of the laws guiding their operations.
Operations of free zones in Nigeria are guided by the NEPZA Act as well as the Nigerian Content Act 2010.
Aganga said, “The NEPZA Act setting them up has already provided all the necessary governments’ encouragement to make them operate optimally. The whole idea is to be able to attract investors to these one-stop shops and create jobs.
“So what we need to do as government is to make sure that all those things on paper are fully implemented; and not that we as government are not doing enough to support.”
The minister pointed out that government’s encouragement to the sector was already yielding dividends with the level of jobs being created at LADOL and similar facilities, by localising skill acquisition and stemming capital flight.
He said, “Some of the things that would have been taken away to South Korea and other countries are now being done here in Nigeria, thanks to the Nigerian Content Act.
“The Nigerian Content Act has further strengthened the support, and we are keying into that to ensure that local investors get their fair share. We even go beyond that and in some cases we go abroad with them to help solve some investment problems.
“Some of the investors have taken us to several countries to help talk to groups of investors they are putting together. We talk to them about the benefits of investing in these free zones and essentially why they should be in Nigeria. So, we are even acting as marketers for them.”
The minister’s position had earlier been corroborated by the Managing Director of LADOL, Dr. Amy Jadesimi, who in her address, lauded the continued encouragement and support by government to the free zones.
According to her, government’s promotion of enterprises such as LADOL has been made manifest through Industrial Revival Plans embarked upon by government and the Nigerian Content Act.
“We thank the ministry for the enabling environment he has created so far and the encouragement provided for indigenous Nigerians through the Industrial Revival Plan,” she said.