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Economy

NEPZA Opposes Provisions of Customs Service Bill on Free Zones

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Free Trade Zones

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) has opposed some sections of the proposed Customs Service reform bill, citing three reasons why an amendment to give the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) powers to make regulations in free zones will weaken and subvert the nation’s Special Economic Zones.

In a submission to the ongoing public hearing on the Custom Reform Bill at the House of Representatives, the agency said, “Free Zones are areas designated as such by the President to serve as one-stop-shop investment hub wherein incentives are provided in form of tax holidays, simplified Customs and Immigration processes, amongst others, with a view to attracting investors.

“The One-Stop-Shop concept, in furtherance of which Regulations were made for all the active Free Zones with the involvement of the Nigeria Customs Service and all relevant stakeholders, would be eroded if the provisions of the bill are allowed.”

It argued that “by providing regulations for the free zones, the Nigeria Customs Service would be setting a dangerous precedent, as other agencies would want to do same.”

The Authority in its response also held that the development, if not nipped in the bud, would result in either multiple regulations that might be contradictory, thereby creating avoidable legal tussles or making registration of enterprises unnecessarily cumbersome and unattractive.

It further submitted that: “the proposed sections of the bill which seek to make the Free Zones Customs- Controlled Zones invariably seek to create antithetical Free Zones Customs Territory alien to the global free trade zone model used around the world.”

While listing specific areas of the Bill it finds objectionable, NEPZA stated that it had through the operations of the free zones contributed tremendously to the national economy, noting that the Lekki Free Zone Quadrant that comprised Lekki Free Trade Zone, Lagos Free Zone, Dangote Free Zone Enterprises and the Alaro City Free Zone, as well as the Calabar Free Zone, and the Kano Free Zone were alluring testaments of how it continued to fast track the country’s industrialisation.

“Dangote Free Zone, a national asset is a zone with enormous prospects for the Nigerian economy. With the heightened insecurity in Nigeria amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the introduction of a new bureaucratic bottleneck such as this proposed legal framework would only scare away investors and retard the free trade zone scheme.

“Bureaucratic bottlenecks have been identified as one of the reasons for Nigeria’s low ranking on the World Trade Organisation’s index of Ease of Doing Business.

“The free zone scheme, therefore, seeks to tackle the problem of corporate investments characterized by bureaucratic challenges, multiple taxation, conflicting regulations,” the agency said.

NEPZA also used the opportunity to allay the fears of the NCS about revenue leakages, adding that it had put in place proper customs procedures and regulations to guide investors operating in the zones in order to avoid or prevent bureaucratic bottlenecks while ensuring that all applicable laws, regulations and guidelines were duly observed.

These safeguards, NEPZA noted, could be ascertained in its enabling Act, as well as the regulations of the respective free zones.

It, therefore, urged the National Assembly to be circumspect by avoiding the temptation of allowing any legal framework that would cripple NEPZA and the free zone scheme.

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

Economy

CitiTrust Holdings Sells Commercial Paper for 22%

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Cititrust Financial Services Ikechukwu Peter

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

An opportunity has opened for commercial paper investors as CitiTrust Holdings Plc is offering the asset class at a coupon of 22.0 per cent per annum under its N50 billion commercial paper issuance programme.

According to details of the exercise obtained by Business Post, the company, in the financial services sector, is selling the debt instrument in four tenors of 90 days, 120 days, 180 days and 270 days.

The minimum subscription for prospective and potential investors is N5 million and can be purchased through any of the registered stockbrokers.

The 90-day instrument is going for 16.1 per cent, the 120-day paper is being sold for 17.5 per cent, the 180-day note is 19.1 per cent, and the 270-day instrument is going for 22.0 per cent.

The offer commenced on November 23, 2022, and is expected to close on Wednesday, December 7, 2022, with the net proceeds to be used for the company’s general corporate purposes and working capital.

CitiTrust said investors would be paid their interests from the operating cash flows of the organisation, with purchases to be settled via direct debit, electronic funds transfers, NIBBS Instant Payment (NIP), NIBBS Electronic Funds Transfer (NEFT) or Real-Time Gross Settlement (RTGS).

CitiTrust is a leading pan-African financial and investment conglomerate owned by reputable institutional and private investors. The company has a focus on high-end financial products and services for its targeted sectors of the economy, with operations in commercial banking, investment banking, wealth management, pension management, insurance and alternative investment.

The firm is a foremost financial solutions provider and has been an intricate part of the Nigerian economy since 2007. It has grown and evolved over the years into an award-winning market leader in the financial sub-sector of the Nigerian economy, establishing its footprints in 12 African countries: Nigeria, Ghana, Rwanda, Botswana, Liberia, Benin Republic, Malawi, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Cote d’Ivoire, South Africa and the UK.

In 2019, the organisation upgraded its operations into a reputable financial services provider to align with the strategic vision of its shareholders to build an enduring institution that delivers cross-functional services to its clientele.

The company’s deep knowledge of the market, dexterity, smooth and reliable processes driven largely by technology and the high quality of its personnel puts it on the cutting edge of strategic Importance with its clientele.

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Economy

No Individual Should Operate Domiciliary Account in Nigeria—Tope Fasua

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domiciliary account in Nigeria

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

An economist and former presidential candidate of the Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party (ANRP) in the 2019 general elections, Mr Tope Fasua, has kicked against the opening of a domiciliary account in Nigeria for an individual, calling it an abnormality.

Speaking on a Channels Television’s Saturday breakfast show, he said only corporate organisations involved in international trades should be allowed to operate a dorm account.

As individuals who need foreign exchange to transact any business transaction, they should be given a credit card or prepaid card, which would be loaded with the value of Dollars they require instead of giving them cash.

According to him, this would limit the demand for FX and strengthen the Naira in the forex market segments.

Mr Fasua made these submissions while reacting to the decision of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to redesign the N200, N500, and N1,000 notes.

“Personal dorm accounts are mostly unnecessary; only companies that are doing international trade transactions or financial market companies should be able to hold dorm accounts because they have a reason to,” the renowned analyst said on the programme monitored by Business Post.

“When I travelled abroad recently, GTBank loaded by card with Dollars, and when I need to spend where I am going, I just use my card,” he added, stressing that, “If you are an exporter, you have export proceeds coming in, you can have a dorm account.

“If you are an importer and you need to pay your customer once in a while, you can have a dorm account as a company, but if every Tom, Dick and Harry can speculate against their own currency, you will never get it out of crises.”

According to him, “The ease at which people move against their currency in this country is too much; it should not be that easy.”

Tope Fasua

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Economy

LIBIZFAIR Will Boost Business Opportunities in Lagos

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business opportunities

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

The Chairman of Nigeria in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM), Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa, has disclosed that the Lagos Island Business Fair (LIBIZFAIR) will improve business opportunities in the state and also attract more investments.

The former federal lawmaker said this at the opening ceremony of the fair organised by the Lagos Island Connect, in conjunction with the Lagos State Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Cooperatives.

At the programme held at the Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS), Onikan, Lagos, Mrs Dabiri-Erewa, represented by the Head of the Lagos Annex of the agency, Mr Oladipo Odebowale, commended the state government for the initiative.

She noted that the platform provides a unique opportunity for entrepreneurs to showcase their businesses, saying, “This will boost investment and business opportunities in the state.”

The Commissioner for Commerce, Industry and Cooperatives, Mrs Lola Akande, in her remarks, described the empowerment of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) as critical to the empowerment of youths.

Represented by the Permanent Secretary in the minister, Mrs Adetutu Ososanya, she noted that building the capacity of youth-oriented enterprises, with the goal of providing opportunities for growth, will lead to an increase in prosperity among Lagos Island youths.

“I believe this platform can leverage socio-economic networking and Information Communication & Technology to provide more interactive opportunities for the teeming youth of Lagos Island and its environs from diverse cultural, religious, social and educational backgrounds to grow their businesses and services, as well as the State’s economy,” she said.

The Commissioner explained that the fair aligns with the policy of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of creating a conducive environment for businesses to thrive, widening access to the market and encouraging networking and collaboration among entrepreneurs.

Also speaking at the event, the Special Adviser to the governor on Sustainable Development Goals & Investment (SDG&I), Mrs Solape Hammond, stressed that the programme was geared towards supporting businesses to thrive at the local government level.

“The study discovered that the youths of Lagos Island are versatile, technologically enabled, driven and willing to be positively engaged, particularly in personal and communal development.

“Though most of them are faced with different challenges yet, there is an enormous zeal to be gainfully engaged rather than being idle, which could contribute to community nuisance.

“Young people in Lagos Island have a brighter vision for the future, and all stakeholders must join together to support them to deliver it,” the governor’s aide said in her presentation on the Lagos Island Youth Needs Assessment Survey.

The co-founder of the Lagos Island Connect, Mrs Yemisi Ransome-Kuti, while addressing participants, noted that the LIBIZFAIR 2022 was geared towards taking businesses in Lagos Island from a local to a global level by investing in the youths and preventing their massive migration to foreign lands.

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