FG to List Free Trade Zones on Nigeria’s Stock Exchange
By Adedapo Adesanya
The federal government, through the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA), the Nigeria Economic Zones Association (NEZA), and the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) has said it would make efforts to list its free trade zones, including the Lagos Free Zone (LFZ) on the stock market.
The Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of NEPZA, Mr Adesoji Adesugba, stated this while speaking during a recent business interface meeting with the Director-General of SEC, Mr Lamido Yuguda, at the commission’s headquarters in Abuja.
He said that the prosperity and wealth of the free trade zones would be effectively extended to the investing public through the stock market.
Mr Adesugba explained that the law establishing NEPZA gave it substantial latitude to effect changes that ensured dimensional linkages between the free zone and the Nigerian public for mutual benefits.
In his words, “We are not in this alone; it is indeed a synergy between some key agencies of government with the Security and Exchange Commission driving the process in order to grant access to the free trade zone community to trade on the Nigeria stock market.
“The best governance structure and framework to drive this innovation is also being worked on. This initiative is a sign of greater things the authority and the commission can do together to position the country’s business environment and the stock market for global competitiveness.
“We are, therefore, about to unleash immeasurable wealth, technology, and prosperity into the country’s stock market. It is our desire to convert the country’s business space into a free trade zone as obtained in Dubai. This is like a first step towards that direction.”
The SEC DG also expressed delight in the initiative that aims to pull more players into Nigeria’s stock exchange, adding, however, that all grey areas that could act as impediments must be dealt with.
The SEC helmsman said the commission was interested in the governance structure of the free trade zones enterprises as that was fundamental to the declaration of profits and sharing of dividends.
“On the whole, the commission welcomes this innovation, and we must all work hard for it to come to fruition in the shortest possible time. Already, six weeks deadline has been agreed upon to submit the final draft of the framework, and we must work within this period to deliver this big gift to Nigerians,’’ Mr Yuguda said.
On his part, Mr Dinesh Rathi, Managing Director of the Lagos Free Zone, said it was gratifying that the Lagos Free Zone was among the team championing this development, adding that the move would allow shares of the Lagos Free Zone, Lekki Deep-Sea Port and the 24 enterprises under the zone’s supervision to be available to the public in the future.
“We are, therefore, happy that the Working Group drafting the framework has been given six weeks deadline within which to submit the final draft of the would-be operating framework.
“We need a document that will stand the test of time. This system of linking the free zone with the customs territory using the stock market is not new; we are currently sharing the experiences of Dubai, China and India that have been successful with this,’’ Mr Rathi said.