By Godwin Oritse
THE Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, in collaboration with the Free Trade Zone Authority, FTZA, have commenced moves to establish off-shore banking in the zones in Nigeria so as to encourage investors to repatriate their returns from their businesses.
Speaking to Vanguard Maritime Report on the sideline of the three days Conference to mark the 30th anniversary of the FTZ in Nigeria, Managing Director of the Nigeria Export Processing Zone Authority, Prof Adesoji Adesugba, said that having off-shore banking operations in the FTZs is a factor that would further boost investors’ confidence in the nation’s FTZs operations.
Adesugba also said that off-shore banking in FTZs is an international best practice that Nigeria must adopt to enhance investors’ operations in the FTZs.
He said:”The CBN is in charge of processing off-shore banking in the FTZs and the FTZA and the CBN have met over the issue for almost two years and we are still meeting. The document to establish thee off-shore banking operations is ready. We are just awaiting the approval of the CBN to commence operations in the Free Zones because Free Zones enterprises are not allowed to enjoy the facilities of the banking system in the Nigerian territory.
“So we need an off-shore banking system. There is no way you can do business without having a bank, so that is what we are asking for. It’s high time we start that.
“Every other Free Zone outside Nigeria has that kind of system. It’s not new, but in Nigeria, we still don’t have it. It is an incentive for investors because that is the first thing they ask for when they come in the Free Trade Zones.
“The absence of an off-shore banking counts against us, so we are asking the Central Bank to please fast-track that for us to have it.
Managing Director of the Oil and Gas Free Zone Authority, OGFZA, Senator Tijjani Kaura, confirmed to Vanguard Maritime Report that the relevant authorities are having discussions with the CBN on the off-shore banking system, adding that the system is one of the mandates of the Free Trade Zones.