Fed Govt Suspends Issuance Of Licenses For Free Trade Zones
The Federal Government has suspended the issuance of licenses for the operation of Free Trade Zones across the country.
Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Adeniyi Adebayo, announced the suspension on Monday at the inauguration of the panel set up for the evaluation of the performance of FTZs.
He stated that henceforth, all applications for FTZ licences would not be processed pending the completion of the panel’s assignment.
According to him, the key objective of the panel headed by the minister was to provide a set of recommendations to inform government strategy on FTZs based on a thorough evaluation of the current operations of FTZs.
Adebayo said the panel would come up with context on the terms of references to ensure the delivery of a clear and detailed report within eight weeks of inauguration.
The panel also has the Minister of State, Mariam Katagum, as member. The team is expected to map out and implement clear strategies to evaluate the operations of recipients of FTZ licences.
The minister lamented that FTZs across the country had not performed up to expectations in terms of impacting positively on the industrial development of Nigeria as witnessed in developed countries.
Adebayo said, “It is important to note that FTZs in most developed countries have contributed successfully towards their industrialisation process. The model was adopted by the Asian Tigers and today, most countries including African countries, are beginning to key into the idea.
“Nigeria through the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment has begun delivery of world-class FTZs across the country.
“However, due to poor implementation, we are yet to take delivery of the dynamic potential of FTZs as an instrument for economic growth.”
The minister said the number of licensed FTZ operators in Nigeria stood at 33, but noted that due to poor implementation, only 12 were operational.
He said, “Currently, the performance of FTZ licensees has been below expectation and this heavily impacts our ability to deliver on crucial priority areas of the government.
“FTZs are key to the nation’s push towards industrialisation and will have a significant impact on Nigeria’s trade and economic fortunes which is greatly required given the current economic challenges.”
Adebayo stated that globally, FTZs account for 68 million jobs and generate $500bn annually, stressing that the sector could be extremely lucrative if executed efficiently.