By James Ogunnaike, Abeokuta
The Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun on Thursday vowed to severely deal with operators of illegal toll points in the State.
Abiodun, who made this known while receiving in audience a three-man team from the Ogun- Guangdong Free Trade Zone, at his office in Oke Mosan, Abeokuta, said those behind these points are impeding the economic growth of the State and would be treated as saboteurs.
He said that if there would be any levies to be placed on anyone, such levies would emanate from the state’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
When collected, such levies, the governor added must be remitted to the account of the state government. To forestall the sharp practices, Abiodun said a special task force would soon be emplaced to deal with operators of the illegal outfits extorting money from legitimate business owners.
“The issue of illegal tolling has been brought to my notice. I learnt that people are collecting multiple tolls. We are creating a task force in the state that will ensure it stops,” Gov Abiodun said, adding that, “if there would be any levies that will be placed on anyone, those levies will be from our ministry of commerce and the revenue will be coming to the state.
All these illegal tolls, we are going to make sure that we remove them and all other issues that have to do with the free trade zone management,” he emphasized.
Abiodun observed that one of the benefits that the establishment of free trade zones has on any economy is the creation of employment for unemployed youths.
He stressed that his administration will do all in its power to ensure that establishments that have the capacity of contributing to the economic development of the state are encouraged.
“For us in the state, the benefit to us is that such establishments must offer our citizenry employment and when our citizens are employed, that immediately impacts on their collective responsibility.
“So we will do everything to support this type of activities in our state. We will do everything to encourage other investors. This administration’s policy thrust is focused on public-private sector partnerships. It is the centerpiece of our vision and we are determined to continue to create that enabling environment for the public-private sector partnership because we believe that is the only way we can see economic prosperity,” he said.
The governor assured that his administration would look at all available options at finding a lasting solution to the poor state of road infrastructure in the fee trade zone corridor.
Already, he said that the state has started looking at all available options.
“The road infrastructure in your corridor is a problem – both your zone, the OPIC. We are looking at different solutions to deal with that. You know that the road there that leads to your place is a Federal road. We have a lot of PPP initiatives from third parties that want to fund its reconstruction. We had an international financial institution interested in it. It suffices for you to know that it is receiving our attention,” he said.
Abiodun added that since his administration came on board, it had been on the move to find a way to make the ease of doing business in the state better.
The state government has put in place various policies that would enable that business thrive in the state.
He contended that: “We are a government. We are not business. So, all we can do is to find ways and means to make it easier for businesses to thrive in our state. To that extent, we’ve put some policies in place. We’ve also passed some bills to the House of Assembly to enable business function and thrive maximally in Ogun state.
We’ve passed the Ogun Investment Promotion Agency Bill, the Ogun Public-Private Partnership is also before the House and will be passed between now and the end of the week. We’ll have PPP office. These are some of the things we’ve put in place to ensure that we have a robust relationship with the private sector,” he said.
In his remarks, the Board Director of New South Overseas Holding Investment, Mr. Weixiaoiing said that the team came to have a discussion with the state government about future potentials and direction of the free trade zone.
He said that the zone is currently making proposals about inviting local commercial leaders to participate in the business promotion of the free trade zone for the benefit of the investors from the zone and the people of the state.
The team had the Vice President of the New South Group, Mr. Deng Yu and the Deputy General Manager, Ogun- Guangdong Free Trade Zone, Mr Daniel Che Wei Daniel in attendance.