* 12/33 operational
The Nigerian government has suspended the issuance of licenses to operators at the free trade zones ( FTZs ) in the country.
The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo, who announced the suspension, lamented that FTZs in the country has not met the expectations in terms of impacting positively on the industrial development of the country as witnessed in developed countries.
Nigeria presently has 33 licensed FTZ operators in the country but, due to poor implementation, only 12 are operational.
The minister disclosed that he has set up a panel, headed by himself, to evaluate the performance of FTZs, hence, all applications for FTZ licenses will no longer be processed pending the completion of the panel’s assignment.
He noted that the key objective of the panel is to provide concrete recommendations and reshape the government’s strategies to reposition the FTZs based on a thorough evaluation of current operations.
The panel is expected to work on the terms of references provided to enable it to deliver a clear and detailed report within eight weeks of inauguration.
The panel will map out and implement clear strategies to evaluate the operations of recipients of FTZ licenses to deliver world-class zones as expected under the Presidential Priority Projects (PPP).
He said: “It is important to note that FTZs in most developed countries have contributed successfully towards the industrialization 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.”
“Currently, the performance of FTZs 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 country’s industrialization drive, they will have a significant impact on Nigeria’s trade and economic fortunes.
“Globally, FTZs account for 68 million jobs and generate $500 billion annually. The sector can be extremely lucrative if executed efficiently, and we must aim to improve the operation of the zones,” he said.