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REPS NEWS: ‘Policies guiding the free trade zones, NEPZA are obsolete’ – Lawmaker

LEGISREPORTS NG -Members of House of Representatives committee on commerce have said that the various policies and guidelines for the operations of all the nation’s free trade zones and NEPZA are not only obsolete but have now impeded expexted flow of business.Chairman of the House committee, Hon Sylvester Ogbaga who spoke at the Calabar free trade zone said:”Policies guiding the free zone and NEPZA are today becoming a bottleneck. The general Act which gives the operational power to free trade zone is also obsolete because we are progressing from one level to another.”"The repeal of 1982 laws on free trade zone is already in progress in the House.

It has passed the first and second reading. It is now on the level of public hearing where we shall invite stakeholders to come and give suggestions.Ogbaga said that in no distant time, they will conduct  public hearing to enable the House  effect changes where necessary to strengthen the nation’s free trade zones.He said free trade zones shall be getting right when challenges like obsolete laws, electricity fluctuations amongst others are taking care of, and hoped that the private sector which has now taken over the issue of electricity shall help the trade zone to refocus.He explained that most of the free trade zone varies in operation, stressing “Calabar free trade zone is independent of ownership.

It is different from what you see in Lagos free trade and other places where organizations take total control of such trade zones. For instance, one of the free trade zones is controlled by Niger Dock.Chairman said although the target of free trade zones all over the country was to create employment and ease up investment, the policy framework/enabling laws have become albatross for the realization of those lofty goals.

On the operations of Tinapa business and leisure resort which has nose-dived due to alleged taxation on Tinapa-bound goods from Onne port, Ogbaga said the problems of Tinapa was on front burner and shall be discussed, and that his committee would include it in its report which shall be presented to the House.General Manager of Calabar Free Trade zone, Sadiq Kazeem electricity was the main challenge they have to grapple with, and that the zone was trying to meet its target inspite of bottlenecks  on the operations of the Calabar Free Trade Zone.

This report was prepared by our reporter in Calabar.

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