• Thursday, July 25, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Free zones remitted over N11trn to federation account in 2023 — NEPZA

Free zones remitted over N11trn to federation account in 2023 — NEPZA

The Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) has disclosed that free trade zones in the country remitted N11.11 trillion to the federation account as of October 2023.

Olufemi Ogunyemi, managing director of NEPZA, spoke during the visit of members of the Senate committee on trade and investment in Abuja, saying that the zones have also facilitated wealth and revenue generation for various states and agencies.

According to him, in 2023, the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) generated N59.38 billion, Immigration Services received N828.7 million, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), N8.738 billion, while states got N998 million in Pay As You Earn (PAYE).

“Remittances to the federations account as of October 2023 stood at N11.11trn while transfers to Consolidated Revenue Fund from 2012 to October 2023 stood at over N5.731 billion and $6.415m respectively.

Ogunyemi added that the feat underscored the importance of the Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in Nigeria’s economic landscape.

He added that direct employment generated by the zones currently stands at 38,429 jobs, with an additional 172,930 indirect jobs created at the end of 2023.

He added that the scheme has fostered skills development, with many semi-trained artisans gaining the expertise to start their own ventures.

The NEPZA boss added that Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and Local Direct Investment (LDI) from 2019 to 2023 have reached $491.8 million and N1.15 trillion, respectively. He said the free zones have also contributed to import substitution, with over N1.62 trillion worth of cargo imported from these zones between 2019 and 2023, saving scarce foreign exchange.

“Wealth has been created/generated in the Customs territory from the free zone operations. For example, between 2019-2023 a total of over N1.62trn worth of cargo has been imported from the free zones. Scarce Nigeria forex would have been expended if this were not done,” he said

The managing director, however, noted that despite these successes, NEPZA faces challenges such as an obsolete legal framework, regulatory incursions, numerous invitations from the National Assembly, and conflicting legislations like the Finance Act and Customs Act.

The authority, therefore, called for the support of the Senate committee to address these challenges and enhance the SEZ scheme’s effectiveness, emphasising the transformative potential of SEZs.

He underscored the economic successes of nations like China and the UAE, advocating for continued and strengthened implementation in Nigeria.

Sadiq Umar, chairman, Senate Committee, reiterated the commitment of the National Assembly to drive the mandate of NEPZA.

On the legal framework, he said, “If it is brought as an executive bill, I will be happy to sponsor it as my bill, but it has to conform with what I believe a bill should be.

Umar urged the authority to operate by its set goals and keep its books clean.