From Chris Anucha, Port Harcourt
The Federal Government has said that Oil and Gas Free Zones have created about 200,000 direct and indirect jobs, apart from attracting $20 billion in investments.
This was disclosed yesterday by the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah, at a stakeholders forum organised by the Oil and Gas Free Zones at Onne, Rivers State.
The Minister, who was represented at the occasion by the Minister of State, Industry, Trade and Investments, Hajia Aisha Abubakar, explained that the Oil and Gas sector also facilitated the transfer of skills and technology to Nigerians in the oil and gas sector.
“For this reason, the Federal Government will continue to support OGFZA (Oil and Gas Free Zones Authority) and investors in the Oil and Gas Free Zones because of their important contributions to national economic development.
“Investors in the Oil and Gas Free Zones also have stories of progress to tell, which makes it a win-win situation for both parties in the partnership. We will, therefore, continue to support the partnership of the free zones, with the required enablers of good policies and conducive environment for businesses to thrive,’’ he said.
“In order to underscore the critical role of the free zones as drivers of economic growth, the Federal Government, in the 2017 budget estimates, made a strong policy statement in support of the concept of the free zones by setting aside a special provision of N51.4 billion for the establishment of six Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in the country, having recognised free zones as veritable engines of growth for the economy.
“As the supervising Ministry that superintends over national matters on Industry, Trade and Investment, we consider this occasion very significant and in line with the focus of the Ministry and indeed the administration.
“You may be aware that our Ministry has developed what we term the MITI plan, which rests on five pillars, namely, creating a friendly business environment; coherence between monetary; fiscal and structural reforms so that economic policies of government are coordinated and targeted at the common purpose of structural transformation to eliminate distortions and supply constraints; provision of hard and soft infrastructure for growth; implementing the Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP); promoting the growth and development of MSMEs and trade facilitation,’’ he further said.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the OGFZA, Mr. Umana Okon Umana, commended the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investments, for his untiring support to the Oil and Gas Free Zones.
He also lauded the Ministry for the work being done by the Presidential Committee on Ease of Doing Business in Nigeria.
“We at the OGFZA aim to fully align with the EDB reforms to ensure that the Oil and Gas Free Zones in Nigeria become prime investment destinations,” he said.