Oil and Gas Free Zones attract $20bn investments, create 200,000 jobs

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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.

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“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.

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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.

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