The Oil and Gas Free Zones Authority (OGFZA) has received commendation over the proposed downward review of tariffs payable in the free zones.
According to the director-general of the Association of Nigerian Exporters, Prince Joseph Idiong, OGFZA’s call for tariff review reflects the sensitivity of the agency to the challenges businesses face as well as the need for the free zones to live out their essence as a special business-friendly hub.
Idiong said by the initiative on the tariff cut, Mr. Umana Okon Umana, Managing Director of OGFZA, has shown that he was working to bring back life into the free zones and deliver badly needed succour to struggling free zone businesses.
He frowned at the manner the contentious tariffs were fixed by NAPIMS, which, according to him, was not the regulator of the free zones, adding that the ruling tariff regime was inconsistent with the Buhari administration’s change agenda that should ensure that the rule of law and due process apply universally in all aspects of public life.
The association’s chief argued that the current tariff regime in the free zones was illegal because it was not arrived at in accordance with section 25 of the OGFZA Act as well as sections 11 and 39 (4) of the Oil & Gas Export Free Zone Regulations 2003.
He said Section 11 of the Oil & Gas Export Free Zone Regulations 2003 states, “the Authority (meaning OGFZA) shall issue schedule of tariffs, which shall apply in the free zone and which shall be reviewed from time to time and copies made available to the licensees or operators,” while section 32 (4) of the same regulation gives OGFZA the “right to review tariffs for operations in the Free Zone from time to time.”
Idiong warned that the arbitrarily high tariffs in the free zones could lead to court action against the Federal Government, and advised that the agency of government charged with the regulation and management of the free zones, rather than an outside body, should be the authority that runs the free zones in all aspects, including the matter of tariffs.