The Senate Committee on Trade, Industry and Investment described Dangote, Lekki, Alaro City and the Lagos Free Zone which made up the quadrant of the Lekki Free Zone Mega Zone and the Eko Atlantic Free Zone as national assets of several billion dollars.
Committee chairman Senator Francis Fadahunsi said this as committee members wrapped up their four-day surveillance tour of commercial areas in Lagos on Thursday.
Fadahunsi said the commercial enclaves that housed seaports, oil and gas refineries, warehouses, tank farms, logistics companies, real estate, manufacturing companies, world-class medical centers as well as factories of various sizes, would in no time begin to be reflected considerably in the gross domestic product (GDP) of the country.
According to a statement by Martins Odeh, Head of Corporate Communications, NEPZA, the lawmaker explained that the country’s political leaders, relevant government agencies and the public must be made to fully accept the concept of a free trade area as as an accelerator of socio-economic growth.
“We are amazed at the level of multi-billion dollar investments attracted to the Lekki Free Zone quadrant, which is home to various megaprojects of global scope.
“The committee is particularly pleased that Alhaji Aliko Dangote and other investors consider Nigeria worthy of hosting these economic empires.
“The prospects for these mega-businesses will dramatically improve the lives of Nigerians and the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) when fully operational. With this development, a new Nigeria is about to evolve, ” Fadahunsi said.
He further said that private operators and their investors in attempting to establish these zones have committed enormous resources to first reclaiming hectares of implausible land from the sea and ocean, adding that the development has also saved parts of Lagos from the regular threats of these large bodies of water.
“For example, the Eko Atlantic Free Zone is an incredible engineering masterpiece that has saved the lives of citizens and their businesses on Victoria Island and the Lekki axis of Lagos. We have been told that the area is capable of generating over 250,000 jobs when completed.
“Investors need our support because the government has no choice but to provide an enabling environment and enabling legislation for the free trade area to be successful in Nigeria,” he added.
Regarding the prevention of zone operators from accessing foreign currency, Fadahunsi promised that the National Assembly would ensure that the Central Bank of Nigeria grants them the license to establish offshore banking services to enable them to access foreign currency. forex without inhibition.
He said the continued denial of zone traders and their companies access to forex was contrary to the government’s desire to use the zone system to industrialize the country.
NEPZA Director General Professor Adesoji Adesugba, who led the committee members to the zones, reiterated that the Authority’s clear mission is to ensure that the zone concept is successful in Nigeria.
Adesugba said the long-term benefits the program would reap for the nation if allowed to expand would outweigh the immediate temptation to use the enclaves to forcibly generate income.
“We have seen how the countries which have adopted this concept have broadened their development horizon without exerting excessive pressure on operators.
“The free trade zone remains an independent country and operations there are exempt from taxes and duties. However, if their operations extend to customs areas, the tax exemption privilege is suspended. This is how the system works, ” said the NEPZA boss.