Senators Vow to Discourage Monopoly in Free Trade Zones

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Blessing Abah

The Nigerian Senate has reiterated its commitment to remove any form of monopoly that can impede the development of private and public free trade zones in Nigeria.

Speaking after inspecting facilities at the Lagos Deep Offshore Logistics (LADOL), members of the Senate Committee on Trade and Investment led by its chairperson, Senator Fatimat Raji-Rasaki accompanied by Senators Effiong Nelson and Yusuf Abubakar Yusuf said the fact-finding tour would enable the senate gather needful information to aid its review of existing laws.

Raji-Rasaki said the senate was committed to ensure a conducive environment that would move the national economy forward by strengthening the laws that govern operation of free trade zones in order to give them an advantage of performing to benefit of the nation’s economy. She said the committee would also visit similar projects in Calabar and Kano.

The Senate Committee on Trade and Investment, according to Senator Effiong Nelson had already commissioned a team of consultants to work with it in looking at 45 laws that would among other things look at the issue of monopoly and waivers from an all-inclusive view.

The issue of monopoly which gives undue advantage to a particular company has been on the front burner of discourse at the free trade zone fora. Other contentious concerns include legislative provisions pertaining to taxes, levies, duties and foreign exchange which border on the viability of the free zones.

The Chairman of LADOL, Mr. Ladi Jadesimi while thanking the committee for the visit said he hoped that it would convey a different perception of what Nigerians are capable of and pleaded with the legislators to ensure a conducive business environment devoid of policy somersault that could send wrong signal to investors.
President Muhammadu Buhari recently commended the unique contribution of the LADOL base as one of the strategic investments in the country that currently drives the nation’s economy.

Buhari made the statement when he opened proceedings at the sixth African Petroleum Congress and Exhibition (CAPE VI) in Abuja organised by the African Petroleum Producers Association (APPA).

The President, who was represented at the event by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), identified LADOL, which has invested over $600 million in private investment, as one of the companies that currently adding the most value to the Nigerian economy through their ingenious investments.

While lauding the efforts of the indigenous organisation in building economic growth, the President similarly gave accolades to Samsung Heavy Industries (SHI), which is currently building one of the world’s largest oil platforms at the LADOL base in Tarkwa Bay, Lagos.

The LADOL/SHI project commonly referred to as Egina Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) platform valued at $3.8billion, is said to be first of its kind to be built in sub-Saharan Africa.

According to the President who urged other investors to emulate the LADOL example, African countries should develop ingenious ways of promoting value addition and investments through sustainable policies in local content.

Through the LADOL/SHI FPSO project, the industry has been boosted with 5,000 direct jobs and over 50,000 indirect employments by leveraging on the Local Content Act 2010.
The President who described LADOL industrial free zone in Lagos – a wholly indigenous, privately developed and hosting the largest shipyard in West Africa allied with the Samsung FPSO integration yard at the base, said the joint venture would aid Nigeria’s quest for her pride of place as a leading world economy.