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FG Suspends Issuance of FTZs Licences

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The Federal Government has suspended issuance of licences for the operations of Free Trade Zones (FTZs) in the country.


The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Chief Adeniyi Adebayo, announced this at the inauguration of the panel on the evaluation of the performance of FTZs, on Monday in Abuja.


A statement by the minister’s Special Assistant on Media, Ifedayo Sayo, quoted him as saying that all applications for FTZs licences would not be processed until the completion of the panel’s assignment.


Adebayo said that the key objective of the panel, headed by him, was to make recommendations that would inform government’s strategy on FTZs, based on thorough evaluation of their current operations.


He said that the panel would also work its other terms of reference to provide a clear and detailed report within eight weeks of inauguration.


According to him, the panel, which also has the Minister of State in the ministry, Mariam Katagum, as member, will map out clear strategies to evaluate the operations of the recipients of FTZs licences.


This, he said, would help in delivering world-class FTZs, as expected under the Presidential Priority Projects (PPP).


The minister noted that FTZs in the country had not performed to expectations, especially in terms of impacting positively on the industrial development of the country, as being witnessed in developed nations.


“It is important to note that FTZs in most developed countries have contributed successfully to their industrialisation process.


“The model was adopted by the Asian Tigers and today, most countries, including African countries, are beginning to key into the idea.

“Nigeria, through the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment (FMITI), has begun delivery of world-class FTZs across the country.


“However, due to poor implementation, we have yet to take delivery of the dynamic potentials of FTZs as an instrument for economic growth,” he said.


According to Adebayo, Nigeria presently has 33 licensed FTZ operators, adding, however, that only 12 are operational due to poor implementation.


He said that currently, the performance of FTZ licencees had been below expectation, thus heavily impacting on government’s ability to deliver on crucial priority areas.


“FTZs are key to the nation’s push towards industrialisation. Globally, they account for 68 million jobs and generate 500 billion dollars annually.


“The sector can be extremely lucrative, if executed efficiently and we must aim to improve the operations of our zones,” the minister said. (NAN)

Economy

We Currently have $30bn Investment Commitments – FG

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The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr Doris Uzoka-Anite, says Nigeria currently has about 30 billion dollars investment committment from various investors.

Uzoka-Anite said this at the ongoing Ministerial Media briefing in Abuja on Friday.

According to her, the commitments will be redeemed over the course of five to eight years.

She said investments, commitments, and pledges were also received from our oil and gas free zone, adding that last week, some of them committed an additional 10 billion dollars in investments.

“I hosted the managing director of SHELL who explained to me about the investment plans of shell.

“ I know a lot of us are aware that shell is leaving; he came to explain to me what they mean by that.

And I can tell you that they are not leaving.

“Rather, they are expanding and increasing their investments in Nigeria; they are selling their onshore assets and increasing their investment in gas and offshore assets.” she said.

Uzoka-Anite, who envisaged more investments into the country, said  it would not have been possible without the commitment of President Bola Tinubu led administration.

She said that with increased investments comes job opportunities and economic growth, which wss part of the priority of the government. (NAN)

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Economy

Nigerian Breweries Records N106bn Loss in 2023

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Nigerian Breweries Plc has recorded a net loss of N106 billion for the year ended 2023, as against N13.93 billion posted in its 2022 financials, indicating 860 per cent loss.

Mr Uaboi Agbebaku, Company Secretary, Nigerian Breweries stated this in the audited financial result of the company for the year ended 2023 sent to the Nigerian Exchange Ltd.

(NGX)

Agbebaku said the gross profit of the company for the year under review also fell by 0.

3 percent to N212.5 billion, compared to N213.20 billion posted in the previous year.

He stated that the operating profit of the company declined by 15.

3 per cent to 45 billion, as against N53 billion recorded in the corresponding year.

The company secretary said that the firm recorded loss in its operating profit due to higher input cost and one-off reorganisation cost despite strong and aggressive cost savings and other efficiency measures.

According to him, the company however was able to grow its revenue by nine per cent to N599 billion, compared to N551 billion posted in the previous year, which was aided by positive price mix.

Agbebaku stated that the Nigeria business landscape experienced significant shifts in 2023, with substantial impact on businesses and livelihoods nationwide.

He explained that the Naira notes redesign which resulted in cash shortage that severely hampered social and economic activities nationwide set the tone for a turbulent year.

Agbebaku said: “High double-digit inflation rates with food inflation at more than 30 per cent and removal of subsidy on fuel.

“Coupled with the impact of the devaluation of the naira which resulted in a foreign exchange loss of N153 billion further exacerbated the already difficult environment for the populace and businesses.

“In a difficult operating environment, the Board will ensure that the company builds on its more than 77 years’ experience of operating in Nigeria to cope with current realities.

He said the company would continue to be resilient and forward-thinking, leveraging on its broad portfolio, strong supply chain footprint and passionate workforce to drive long-term value creation for its shareholders and other stakeholders.(NAN)

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Economy

NDLEA Tincan Command Intercepted 876.453kg Illicit Drugs, others in 2023-Commander

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 The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) Tincan Special Area Command,  says 876.453 kilograms of various illicit drugs and controlled substances were intercepted in 2023.

Commander Mohammed Abubakar of the command said this in a statement in Lagos on Thursday.

He listed the drugs as cocaine worth 24kg; Canabis – 852.

45KG; and Tramadol – 0.
003KG, all totalling 876.
453KG.

According to Abubakar, a total of 15 individuals were arrested and prosecuted during the period, out of which 10  were convicted.

He added that the feat was achieved through relentless efforts and meticulous investigation, which led to the dismantling of several drug trafficking networks and the subsequent prosecution of individuals involved.

“The Tincan special area command has been at the forefront of strategic operations in the area, targeting illicit drug smuggling activities and apprehending those responsible.

“In recent months, the efforts have culminated in multiple successful seizures and arrests, emphasising the agency’s commitment to eradicating drug-related crimes within our society.

“In one operation carried out at the Tincan port, a notable seizure of illicit drugs (Cannabis Indica also called Colorado) totalling 161.5kg was made, along with sum of 22,900 dollars offered as bribe to officers.

“The intercepted drugs, were concealed within cargo shipments of used vehicles from Montreal Canada, indicating the ingenuity of the involved drug traffickers,” he said.

Abubakar said that several investigations were conducted in collaboration with national and international law enforcement agencies, leading to the identification and apprehension of some of the key players in these drug networks.

The NDLEA boss noted that the combined efforts proved fruitful, resulting in the arrest of some of the persons directly involved in the importation, distribution, and sales of illicit drugs.

He said that throughout 2023, the command embarked on various sensitisation and enlightenment activities within and around the Tincan island port.

He listed them to include advocacy visit to all stakeholders in and around the port, public enlightenment and lectures, rallies and engagement of traditional rulers and non-governmental organisations around the port environment.

“All the activities were carried out under aegis of ‘War Against Drug Abuse’ (WADA) and  was designed to reduce demand and abuse of illicit drugs and psychotropic substances in Nigeria.

The NDLEA Tincan special area commander appreciated stakeholders in the maritime industry, and other relevant government agencies for their unwavering support and collaborative effort in these operations.

He added that their dedication and joint action had played a crucial role in the successes achieved thus far.

He also urged all licensed Customs clearing agents to stop the practice of authorising third party individuals to clear cargo under their company stamp.

He pointed out that the practice, automatically made the company liable to any cargo cleared,  using its name and stamp.

“This may become a real problem when illicit drugs are discovered and the company cannot provide any tangible information or whereabout of the owners of the cargo.

“Clearing agents have the responsibilities to not only adhere to laws but to cooperate with law enforcement agents undertaking an investigation.

“The NDLEA Tincan special area command sends a strong message to all those involved in drug trafficking and other illicit activities, we intend to use every available resource to bring them to justice and put an end to their illegal operations,” he said.

He said the command would continue to enhance their intelligence capabilities, invest in modern equipment, and provide training for its officers to combat drug trafficking effectively.

“The agency urges the public to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activities related to drug trafficking to the NDLEA or relevant law enforcement agencies. Together, we can create a safer and drug-free environment for all Nigerians,” he said. (NAN)

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