The House of Representatives Commerce Committee has described the Calabar Free Trade Zone (CFTZ) concession process as a positive approach to unlocking the zone’s full potential and significantly boosting the country’s economy.
Representative Richard Gbande, vice-chairman of the committee, said this when he led members on an inspection tour of the Calabar area.
A statement released on Thursday by Martins Odeh, Head of Corporate Communications, Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA), reported that Gbande said it would boost industrialization and economic growth.
The lawmaker, representing Katsina-Ala/Ukum Federal Constituency of Benue State, explained that the public must understand why the federal government has adopted the free trade zone scheme.
According to him, it was essentially to encourage industrialization and promote economic growth.
He said, however, that the program requires a long period of sustained funding to bring significant benefits to the country.
Gbande further said that NEPZA has so far performed well with its limited resources, adding that the impact of the program has reflected positively in the gross domestic product (GDP) of the country.
“We are in the Calabar Free Trade Zone to see the progress made by the trade ecosystem and I can say that NEPZA has done well so far in keeping the country’s pioneering free zone intact and functional.
“The committee has noticed some of the challenges which include the external infrastructure and the dredging of the Port of Calabar.
“Despite these challenges, the businesses, most of which are foreign-owned, are still operating and helping to provide jobs for locals while serving markets,” he said.
Gbande explained that the area would be brought to the optimum level of competitiveness required when handed over to private investors.
Professor Adesoji Adesugba, CEO of NEPZA, welcomed President Muhammadu Buhari’s commitment and support in revamping the program to meet international standards.
The NEPZA boss reaffirmed the federal government’s commitment to ensuring a stable power supply to the Calabar and Kano free trade zones, adding that the recent blackout in the Calabar zone had been resolved.
Adesugba said the government’s approval of funds for infrastructure development in the two public areas, and two other new ones, was an indicator of the president’s commitment to repositioning the program.
According to him, the Authority has continued the execution of electricity and other projects in Kano, Calabar, Textile and Garment Park as well as Medical Special Economic Zone in Lagos.
“Already, work is being done in these areas as infrastructure development remains the bait that can attract investors to the areas,” said Adesugba (NAN).