By NKIRUKA NNOROM
The Federal Government can exploit the instruments of Export Processing Zones to drive volumes of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into the country, says Mr. Emmanuel Jegede, a senior executive of Nigeria Export Processing Zone Association (NEPZA).
He made the remark while presenting a paper on “The Future Role of Financial Players” in the recently concluded third Free Trade Zone Conference & Exhibition in Lagos.
He observed that nations like DUBAI, Singapore, China that are now tourist destinations, had at different times taken advantage of FTZs in their clime and are earning massive foreign exchange because of their productive advantage.
He said, “Nigeria has been trumpeted to be amongst the leading industrial nations in 2020 and one of the drivers and instruments that will unleash this economic quantum leap is through the mechanism of Export Processing Zone,” adding, “Our Gross Domestic Product, GDP, in 2009 by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, figures stood at US35.885billion and can only have a quantum leap through the mechanism of Free Zone to make our products competitive in the international arena.
“Great nations in the world today, especially the preeminent G7 were shot up to the Olympian economic height through their superior GDP and other siblings of human development indexes,” he stated.
Jegede identified diversifications of the revenue base of the economy, employment generation and encouragement of export through local production as some of the benefits of Free Trade Zone.
He listed unstable and inconsistency in government policies, poor execution of the scheme leading to undesired deliverables, high cost of goods resulting in International non competiveness, undeveloped infrastructure like Power, good road, Rail as some of the challenges confronting FTZ operators as well as inadequate funding through low interest loan to firms within the zone.
He further observed that banks operating within the FTZ enjoy innumerable benefit, including, freedom to move funds in and out of the Zone, exemption of all documents from stamp duties, as well as exemption from withholding tax requirement on interest payable on deposit, dividends and royalties, among other benefits.