By Favour Nnabugwu
The Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) has commended President Muhammadu Buhari’s steps to align Free Trade Zone aligned with the global rules and regulations guiding the scheme.
Managing Director of NEPZA, Prof. Adesoji Adesugba stated this on Saturday while responding to the Business Facilitation (Miscellaneous Provision) Bill 2022 that passed Senate second reading on Wednesday.
The bill seeks to ensure the sustainability of the business climate and to give statutory force to Executive Order 001 of 2017 on the promotion of transparency and efficiency in the country’s business space.
This bill also aims at amending specific laws relating to ease of doing business including the reconciliation of the provisions of NEPZA Act and the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) to recognize the exemption of the free trade zone companies licensed by NEPZA from the country’s normal company registration processes.
The NEPZA chief executive officer said that the development was long awaited, adding that the president’s action simply ensured that the scheme was administered according to global rules and regulations guiding the operation of free trade zones.
“We have always viewed the call in some quarters to subject the registration of free trade zone companies to the CAMA Act as a farce and not in line with the tenets of the scheme anywhere in the world. It is the responsibility of NEPZA as the regulatory body to carry out that role as a truly one-stop-shop.
“This bill, when eventually passed into law would restore the confidence of free trade zone operators and enterprises on the country’s capacity and political will to manage the scheme in line with international best practices,’’ The NEPZA boss said.
Adesugba, however, noted that the continued call for the amendment of the NEPZA Act 63 of 1992 had been further accentuated by this bill, adding that the almost 30 years Act had a number of incongruous clauses that must be amended to allow for the seamless administration of the scheme.
“We are particularly enthused and happy that President Muhammadu Buhari has always insisted that the administration of the scheme aligns more with the global rules and regulations that guide operation of the free trade zone.
“This step taken by the Executive arm of government to give legislative backing to Order 001 of 2017 made by Mr President is a testament to this administration’s relentless commitment to significantly improve the country’s business and investment climate,’’ he said.