Free Trade Zones: Lawmakers seek amendment to governing Laws
The Senate Committee on Trade, Industry and Investment has urged the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) to push for the amendment of its Act to tie all loose ends in its mandate of regulating the country’s free trade zone scheme without further delay.
Chairman of the committee Sen. Francis Fadahunsi made the remark during routine oversight function to some free trade zones in Lagos State, South West Nigeria.
Sen. Fadahunsi said the excavation of perennial crisis between NEPZA and the Onne Oil and Gas Export Free Zone Authority (OGEFZA) must be put to rest, adding, that the existing laws that established both agencies gave them distinct functions.
He explained that “going by NEPZA Act 63 of 1992, the Authority is bestowed with the sole mandate of regulating Nigeria’s Free Trade Zone Scheme. NEPZA by this Act is a regulatory body’’.
The chairman of the committee, explained that OGEFZA was also a creation of the parliament in 1994 with a clear mandate to operate as a zone in the downstream sector in Onne and Okpokri in River State.
“If the agency wanted to enlarge its powers to cover the entire country, the operators should also come up with a bill seeking amendment of the Act, OGEFZA has never been a regulatory body’’, Sen. Fadahunsi said.
He said the committee was more concerned with the two agencies performing their duties to grow employment and revenue for the government, noting that the regular squabbles were clear act of economic sabotage that government would no longer condone.
Meanwhile, Sen. Fadahunsi expressed satisfaction with the huge contributions of trade zones and their enterprises to the national economy, adding that the new NEPZA management had ignited the return of confidence and passion of the operators of the scheme.
NEPZA’s Board Chairman, Mr Adamu Fanda, said the Authority would perform better if placed under the supervision of the presidency, saying that was the position in all of the countries where the scheme had succeeded.
“The United Arab Emirate adopted this scheme in 1987 while Nigeria embraced it in 1992, leaving UAE to just be ahead of us with just five years. UAE has used FTZ to attain inconceivable development strides but our case is different’’, Fanda said.
He added that it was high time the government contemplated ceding the operation of the scheme to the private sector while still reserving its regulatory powers.
“The country’s free trade zone can only be successful like those of China and UAE if built on cost benefit analysis. It will be more profitable with the private sector taking full charge while NEPZA supervises”. He added.