By Levinus Nwabughiogu-Abuja
House of Representatives has mandated its Committee on Commerce to investigate the activities of the Free Trade Zones, the Oil and the Gas Free Trade Zones to determine revenue leakages.
The Committee is to carry out an analytical overview of the operations of the Nigerian Exporting Processing Free Zone Authority (NEPZA) and Oil and Gas
Free Trade Zone Authority (OGFTZA).
The decision was reached on the heels of a motion captioned “Investigation into the Operations and Management of the Export Free Zones Authorities in Nigeria”, moved at Wednesday plenary by Hon. Ntufam Eta Mbora.
In his motion, Mbora noted that the aims of establishing free trade zones were for the provisions of foreign exchange earnings, job creations, revenue generation, attract direct foreign investment to enhance knowledge, technology transfer, grants, requisite permits and licenses to conduct approved enterprises within the free trade zones, and to regulate, supervise, manage, control and coordinate the activities of free trade zones in the country.
He said that the series of the country’s growth and economic indices have continually slowed down because of over-reliance on the oil sector and deliberate abandonment of the non-oil sectors by successive governments and negligence of trade and commerce.
He said that oil and gas remained a veritable sector to sustain the economy particularly in the face of dwindling revenue from the oil sector and the Coronavirus pandemic.
“Billions of naira have been expended into the Free Trade Zones and Oil and Gas Free Trade Zone on their establishment and huge budgetary allocations have been provided in the past fifteen years without commensurate result in terms of infrastructural development and achieving the aims for which they were established.
“Since the inception of these Free Trade Zones, given the volume of investments by the Federal Government of Nigeria and the enormous revenues accruing to the operating registered companies in the designated free trade zones which is in the neighbourhood of three hundred million naira (#300,000,000) without proper monitoring, maintenance of proper transfer pricing audit documentation resulting in shortchanging the country.
“Inconsistencies and concerted collaborations at the Oil and Gas Free Trade Zones have resulted in numerous shortages and leakages on effective and correct revenue collection, diversion, and non-remittance to appropriate Federal Government Agencies”, he said.
Adopting the motion, the House gave the Committee 6 weeks within which to do the assignment and report back for further legislative action.