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Need for OGFZA to treat INTELS fairly

By Simon Jooda

The various measures that have been enunciated in recent times by the Federal Government particularly in the realm of rolling out of   Executive Orders   to eliminate difficulties in the Easy of Doing  Business in all sectors of the economy and as such promote Foreign Direct Investment, FDIs, in Nigeria have undoubtedly, been very laudable   and forward looking.

However, increase in the level of inflow of FDIs into the Nigerian economy, which should be the positive outcome of deliberate policies, could be a mirage, unless the agencies of government executing the measures carry out their assignments with sincerity and integrity, backed by the requisite political will. They must be seen to be fair and above board .Some of them have not lived up to this expectation.

For instance,   the current   unnecessary face off   being orchestrated against oil   and gas   giant, Intels Nigeria Limited, INL,   by the Oil and Gas   Free Zone   Authority, OGFZA,   over   various matters is portraying the Ease of Doing Business initiative in negative light and acting as a discouragement   to the quest to attract FDI into Nigeria.

For the benefit of hindsight, a major issue of contention between the two parties is   the refusal of OGFZA to renew the 2017 Operating License for Intels despite paying the licence renewal fee in full.The Free Zone Authority is insisting that INL has to pay all charges and fees   demanded by it for the license to be released to INL.

There are also issues of imposition of land charges on INL by OGFZA ,   nullification of INL’s Industry Wide Standard Tariff, IWST and other port related charges   and the   OGFZA management’s penchant for conveying to   agencies and clients messages that are   injurious to INL business interest and reputation and   the   non-payment for INTELS’ premises occupied by OGFZA at Onne and Heliconia Park Estate.

The consensus in the oil and gas sector is that INTELS 2017 operating license should be released to it in the interest of justice and equity particularly when it has paid the fee while other debts owed it should also be paid so as not to put its business in jeopardy.Lawfully,, since S. 14 of the Free Zone (Tariffs & Other Charges) Order 2015 exempts Concessionaires like INL from OGFZA’s charges , INL should be excluded from the payment of lease charges.

Needless to mention that this development is quite unfortunate and antithetical to the government’s drive   to attract FDIs into the country. It is indeed, a distraction and a source of discouragement to prospective foreign investors and the existing ones, who have looked up to Intels as a model of a successful FDI.

OGFZA being a government agency, its negative measures against INL have indeed been a paradox to the role it is expected to be playing in the implementation of the renewed efforts of the Presidency   at attracting and boosting investments   in Nigeria particularly in the oil and gas sector which is currently the mainstay of the economy.

It should also be realized that Intels, which founder is an Italian has overtime because of its accomplishments in Nigeria not just in the oil and gas sector but also in estates , concessioning projects   and maritime , where it has   in an enviable way , set up a model port in the country proved to be a very law abiding corporate entity which prospective and existing FDIs have looked up to.

Therefore, OGFZA and INL should urgently enter into discussions with a view to resolving the matters amicably. Politics in whatever guise should be removed from the negotiations while fairplay and transparency must prevail for the interest of the country’s economy. Otherwise, the   current actions of OGFZA against INL cannot be said to be encouraging to foreign investors.


Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.