Presidency raises concern over misrepresentation of N42bn SEZ plans

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The presidency has expressed concern that plans of President Muhammadu Buhari administration to fast-track Nigeria’s industrial development through the Special Economic Zones were being misrepresented in the public, including at a recent public hearing in the Senate.

The presidency, in a document made available to the News Agency of Nigeria on Monday in Abuja, said that SEZ was discussed and approved by the Federal Executive Council.

The Senate had recently rejected the N15.63 billion budget proposals of the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment for 2019 because of the Nigeria Special Economic Zones Investment Company, listed for N42 billion appropriation.

The document said there was a firm resolve in the Executive arm of government to clarify issues and keep the SEZ plans and the strategy adopted and already approved by the FEC.

“The discovery that a government parastatal in the Industry, Trade and Industry Ministry, the Nigeria Export Processing Zone Authority is said to have created a confusion when it’s top officials misinformed some members of the Senate about funds allotted for the implementation of the SEZ via the establishment of a PPP special vehicle firm named NSEZCO.

“While NEPZA had argued that the allocation of over N42 billion to NSEZCO ought to be allocated to it, rather than NSEZCO, the Attorney-General to the Federation had clarified the law.

“The AGF explained that it was proper for the money to be allocated to the implementing liability company, NSEZCO, formed for the specific purpose as the Industry, Trade and Investment Minister had done.

“But despite the clarifications from the Attorney-General and the direction of the Industry Minister, officials of NEPZA were alleged to have surreptitiously taken the matter to some Senators causing a misunderstanding of the strategy adopted for the implementation of the Special Economic Zones.

“Both the president and the vice president are said to be concerned that such conduct of some of NEPZA officials if proven would be flagrant disobedience of clear presidential directives and initiatives.

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