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Ministry clears air on alleged insertion of ‘illegal company’ in 2019 budget

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Hours after the Senate Committee on Trade and Investment rejected its 2019 Budget proposal of N15.63 billion, the Ministry of Trade and Investment has clarified the status of the Special Economic Zones Company.

Recall that the Senate committee said it rejected the proposal after it discovered that the company listed as a parastatal under the ministry is a private company.

The committee made the discovery when it contacted the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) on how the company was registered.

But in a statement signed by its spokesperson, Bisi Daniels, the ministry said the Nigeria SEZ Investment Company Limited (NSEZCO) is a presidential initiative.

He said it was incorporated as a special purpose vehicle to deliver Project MINE (Made in Nigeria for Exports).

The ministry said the company was approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) in June 2018, with the endorsement of the Economic Management Team, as the holding entity for FGN investments and proprietary interests in existing and future SEZs.

The FEC approval also provides that all current and future capital appropriations for Project MINE should be transferred to NSEZCO’s account, as soon as opening formalities are completed.

With the formalities completed, NSEZCO became the platform through which Federal Government’s capital budget appropriations for SEZs are converted into long term value-creating investments.

NSEZCO is a public-private partnership (PPP) company to operate world-class standards of governance and management, to facilitate mobilisation of capital and other resources from PPP partners, in order to overcome budgetary constraints to the provision of critical infrastructure for SEZs,” the statement said.

The ministry said by aggregating and harnessing FG’s investment in a strong corporate special purpose vehicle, NSEZCO will facilitate the mobilisation of additional capital from development finance institutions (DFIs) and private investors.

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It said the Ministry of Finance Incorporated (MOFI) holds the FG’s interest of 25 per cent being the shareholder in NSEZCO while the balance of 75 per cent is currently held in trust on behalf of other prospective shareholders, pending completion of investors’ diligence and documentation and approval procedures.

The ministry said NSEZCO, on February 8, signed investment agreements with three Development Finance Institutions; Afreximbank, Bank of Industry, and the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA).

It quoted President Muhammadu Buhari at the signing ceremony as saying: “When we committed to the implementation of the Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan and launched our Economic Recovery and Growth Plan to fast track implementation, we had a vision of Nigeria as the pre-eminent manufacturing hub in Sub-Saharan Africa and a major exporter to our immediate West African sub-region, the rest of Africa and indeed the World.”

Already, NSEZCO is a public-private partnership, mobilising capital from the Federal Government and the development finance institution shareholders, for the development of Special Economic Zones across Nigeria.”

It said the Pilot projects in the first phase are Enyimba Economic City, Abia State, Lekki Model Industrial Park, Lagos State, and Funtua Cotton Cluster, Katsina State.

It adds that pre-development studies are ongoing in Benue, Kwara and Sokoto states whilst studies will soon commence in Ebonyi, Edo and Gombe states amongst several others.

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