June 11, 2024

Free zones remits N11.11trn to FG in 2023 — Nigeria Export Authority

Lotus Bank pledges support for non-oil export earnings

The Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA), said the country’s Free Zones as of October 2023, remitted N11.11 trillion to the Federation Account.

The Managing Director, NEPZA, Olufemi Ogunyemi, said this during an oversight visit of the members of the Senate Committee on Industry, Trade and Investment on Tuesday in Abuja.

According to Ogunyemi, this achievement underscores the importance of special economic zones (SEZs) in Nigeria’s economic landscape.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Nigerian SEZ scheme, governed by the NEPZA Act, allows for public, private, or public-private operations in these zones.

The managing director said the zones had facilitated wealth and revenue generation for various states and agencies.

“In 2023 alone, the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) generated N59.38 billion, Immigration Services received N828.7 million, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) garnered N8.738 billion, and states collected N998 million in PAYEE.

“Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) and Local Direct Investments (LDIs) from 2019 to 2023 have reached 491.8 million dollars and N1.15 trillion respectively.

“The Free Zones have also significantly contributed to import substitution, with more than N1.62 trillion worth of cargo imported from these zones between 2019 and 2023, saving scarce foreign exchange,” he said.

According to Ogunyemi, the direct employment generated by the zones stands at 38,429 jobs, with an additional 172,930 indirect jobs created by the end of 2023.

He said the scheme had also fostered skills development, with many semi-trained artisans gaining the expertise to start their ventures.

The NEPZA boss said that in spite of these successes, the authority was being faced with challenges such as an obsolete legal framework.

He said they faced regulatory incursions, numerous invitations from the National Assembly, and conflicting legislation, such as the Finance Act and Customs Act.

Ogunyemi, therefore, urged the support of the Senate Committee on Industries, Trade and Investment to address these challenges and enhance the SEZ scheme’s effectiveness.

While reiterating the transformative potential of SEZs, he highlighted the economic successes of nations like China and the UAE, advocating continued and strengthened implementation in Nigeria.

The NEPZA boss also restated the authority’s commitment to boosting the country’s economy.

Responding, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Trade and Investment, Sen. Sadiq Umar, reiterated the NASS’s commitment to driving the mandate of NEPZA.

On the legal framework, he said,” if it is brought as an executive bill, I will be happy to sponsor it as my bill, but it has to conform with what I believe a bill should be.”

On the numerous invitations, Umar said the national assembly was empowered to invite whomever it desired but urged the authority to ensure it operated according to its set goals.

“What I can help you with is ensuring you are doing the right thing and that your books are clean.

” And if they invite you, you can confidently go there and answer  questions,” he said.

The chairman decried some zones’ inability to meet their set goals and urged NEPZA to ensure this was addressed.

The chairman said much more still needed to be done in the agency.

” The committee is going to take it up to ensure that the agency is well positioned to achieve the real reasons why they are established,” Umar said.