The Benue Government says it has concluded arrangements to privatise state owned industries following its failure to revive them through leasing.
The state Commissioner for Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr Tersoo Kpelai, disclosed this in Makurdi.
Kpelai said the lease option had not worked as most investors that were given such leases either lacked the financial capacity to manage them or were deficient in the technical requirements needed to turn them around.
However, he admitted that the government was encouraged by the huge successes achieved from the concession of its plastic company by the previous administration.
He said its recent decision to privatise its industries followed the successes it recorded in the concession of Benue Plastic Industry by the previous administration.
The commissioner explained that the concession of the plastic company improved the fortunes of the industry to a mega status that “now produces 10 different brands”.
According to him, government has already negotiated the outright sell of such industries.
“Lease option has not helped us, so now is outright privatisation of the industries. Already, we have received bids from different investors on all the industries and after everything would be sorted out, the state council on privatisation would handle it. Companies like Taraku Mills, Otukpo Burnt Brinks, Katsina-Ala Fruit Juice, Wanune Tomato Factory and Mbatyav Cement Factory, among others, will all be privatized,” he said.
He said that the government was yet to ascertain the sum total of proceeds it would generate from the exercise, adding that the council will determine the cost of each industry.
Kpelai said that the first two years of Gov. Samuel Ortom’s administration were committed to laying the economic foundation of the state to ensure the implementation of the industrialisation plan.
He said it was necessary to do that in order to actualise the campaign promises of Ortom.
He disclosed that the administration inherited a poor structure of trade flows, saying the investment climate is low.
“The administration has put in deliberate polices to boost trade flows and sensitise the investment climate to attract investors improve businesses in the state.”
He also disclosed that government had spent about 6.2 million dollars (30 per cent equity) with Zhenghon Cangxi Industry and Commerce Development Company Limited in the Igumale Cement Factory project.
The commissioner put the total cost of the project at 80 million dollars, adding that the core investors are returning 70 per cent equity.
“Benue state was expected to contribute 70 per cent of the USD 80m, however, due to paucity of funds the deal was reversed in favour of the core investors, Zhenghon Cangxi, who now have 70 per cent and Benue Government returns 30 per cent.We have responsibilities such as construction of access road to the site, acquiring of mining license for limestone and coal, carrying out environmental impact assessment for the project. We were also supposed to procure Form M and marine insurance for the importation of the last batch of equipment of which we have already met our responsibilities,” he said.
Kpelai further said that plans were underway for the construction of GSM/ICT Village, Mega Mechanic Village in Makurdi and the building of a Palm Oil Producing Plant in Otukpo.
He added that the ministry in conjunction with ITF was currently training 500 youths on ICT with the hope of giving all the participants start-up packs to start small businesses in the state.