By Esseh Ikora, Uyo
The Federal government has reinstated its commitment to provide business environment conducive for investors in the Calabar Free Trade Zone (CFTZ) to encourage productivity.
The permanent secretary of Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr Edet Akpan gave the assurance at the weekend in Calabar, Cross River state, after interacting with investors in the zone.
Inundated with challenges of inadequate power, water supply and lack of patronage for projects manufactured locally in the zone, the Permanent Secretary assured them of the commitment of the federal government to address the challenges.
“This is my first official visit to this zone. I have to see things for myself. Now I am here I have seen the prospects and challenges. I assure you that this visit will bring some needed change.
“You know this is a country with foreign investors doing business here. When I get back to Abuja, I am going to brief the honourable minister who is desirous of implementing the policies of the President.
“I am impressed with the cordial working relationship existing among the staff and the investors. There are signs of good things to come. The infrastructure around the zone will be addressed soon,” he said.
Earlier, the head of Calabar Free Trade Zone, Engr. Godwin Ekpe told the permanent secretary that the zone had licensed 77 companies out of which 42 were operational, carrying out different activities with an employment generation of over 11,000 skill and unskilled workers.
Ekpe identified the over lapping functions of the Nigeria Customs Services in the zone, which he said was interfering with the activities of investors in the zone.
He appealed to the federal government to rehabilitate the roads linking the zone and neighbouring states to enhance economic activities as well as easy evacuation of finished products from the zone.
Ekpe said since its inception in 1992, activities of CFTZ had been export oriented.
“During this period, activities in the zone were mainly export oriented where over 75 percent of goods produced in the zone were destined for export
“However , with global trend and best practices, the scheme was modified and rebranded as CFTZ on November 21st 2001 by former President Olusegun Obasanjo.” Ekpe said.