FG unfolds new efforts towards attracting direct foreign investments

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ALH. INDE DIKKO ABDULLAHI, COMPTROLLER GENERAL OF CUSTOMS.

…As Dikko enjoins Nigerians in diasporas, to come home and invest
The international business community assembled in London a fortnight ago, backed by Nigerians in Diasporas to listen as Nigeria began a reinvigorated effort to unfold Government efforts and policy, aimed at seeking new endorsements, for direct foreign investments (DFI) into the country.

The effort which was anchored by the Minister of Trade, Industry and Investment, Dr. Segun Aganga, on a platform created by the Financial times Live, also witnessed the Comptroller General of Customs, Dr. Dikko Inde Abdullahi appealing to Nigerians presently dwelling outside the country, to come back home and contribute more directly, to the development of the country; even as the Dangote Group as well as the Stallion Group and a few others from Nigeria, to affirm and validate Government’s unique selling points.

Stressing that Nigeria, with its special endowments in the areas of population, growing market, and an enviable natural blessing was now the country to invest in, Dr. Aganga highlighted that Government had also successfully put in place, new policies to guarantee a more conducive business environment, safeguard investors’ capital and profits through noteworthy legal framework; as well as networking with regional powers to boost national and regional security.

“Under the leadership of his Excellency, our President, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, Nigeria has commenced a journey of economic transformation; and this journey is irreversible”, Aganga declared, leveraging on the earlier presenta-tion of the Dangote Group, to emphasize that Government was also already finding solution, to the nation’s power outage problem.

“We have commenced repositioning of all relevant institutions including the Nigeria Customs Service, to meet the hues and cries of the demands of our dear country, in line with our view on trade agenda for economic transformation.
“Our policy is to attract investment. Nigeria is on the move and for all of you here today, I invite you to size the wide and rare opportunity and invest in Nigeria.

“I am delighted to say that within these last five weeks, we have received a premier from China with more than a 100 business delegates. Within this period, we have received the President of Kenya with about 75 businessmen and women. We have also received the Swiss Economic Minister with abut 33 business men and women.

“Every year the Swiss business men and women decide on going to various countries. They suggest countries to their government and their government which country they go.

“Within the last five weeks we have received the Economic Minister from Germany and his 3 delegates. We have received the US Secretary with about 23 business men and women from the United States. She told me that about 100 people who wanted to come but they had to limit the number to 23.
“Within these five weeks, we have received the President of Pakistan. It is the first time in our history that the President of Pakistan would visit Nigeria with a delegate of about 60 people. We have received 3 delegates from Iran.

“Within these five weeks, we have received the Justice Minister of International Trade and Development with about #0 entrepreneurs from Netherlands.

“In addition to that, the Justice Minister is setting up a business worth about $700million to support investment in the Netherlands and other countries and would support Nigeria by setting up business in Nigeria, as well as even fund business in Nigeria; once they viable and meets their department they can assess that $700million in Europe.

“I am only saying that in the last five weeks, despite the security challenges, we have been playing host to at least 8-9 Head of States and Ministers with delegates. They must have seen what you have not seen if you have not been to Nigeria”, the Minister told his international audience, even as he commended the NCS Comptroller General of Customs (CGC), Dikko Inde Abdullahi for implementing policies capable of making the country a major attraction for Direct Foreign Investments (DFI).

The Comptroller General of Customs however saw the opportunity as a grand one to urge for stronger participation of Nigerians in diasporas to come home, invest more in the country, as the country, particularly the Customs Service was leaving no stones unturned, in the bid to entrench a smoother cargo facilitation regime.

He noted that in keying into President Goodluck Jonathan’s transformation agenda therefore, the Service was not only collaborating and partnering with other relevant Government agencies, to create the Nigerian Tradehub, a unique platform aimed at bringing a remarkable ease into the economy, through a more efficient cargo facilitation regime.

“The growth of trade is critical to boosting economic development and poverty alleviation in developing economies. Its potential for job creation makes it a strategic component of President Goodluck Jonathan’s Transformation Agenda in Nigeria”, he observed, adding that as a major regulatory agency of Government, Nigeria Customs Service therefore plays a very active role in stimulating the growth of trade in Nigeria by creating the conducive atmosphere necessary for investment in flow.

“This situation calls for synergy between the Customs and the Ministry in charge of Industry, Trade and Investment. I am happy that this synergy is demonstrated by the presence of the Honourable Minister, Dr Olusegun Aganga and his participation in this Forum. It is very instructive to note that the great strides recorded in Customs Modernization dates back to 2009. It all started during the days of Dr Aganga as Minister of Finance and chairman of the Customs Board. With his clear understanding that a modern Customs Administration is necessary for economic growth, he helped to lay a strong foundation for the reforms that repositioned Customs in Nigeria”, he indicated further, explaining that the Service was indeed at a cross road in 2009, especially with a work force that was highly demoralized, poorly remunerated and illequipped.

The Comptroller General said he subsequently embarked on a 6-point Agenda of action to prepare the Customs for a full take over of international Trade Management from Inspection Companies in line with the provisions of the Bali Agreement on Trade Facilitation, via a plan that addressed the issue of capacity building for officers and men, improving the welfare of the

workforce, automation of processes and system upgrade, building integrity and transparency into our system, partnerships with other Customs adaministrations and the Private sector, and a communication and outreach program for active stakeholder engagement.
Consequently, the Service developed the Ni-gerian Trade Portal, and made it accessible worldwide through www.nigeriatradehub.gov.ng, creating an interactive portal that offers online advisory related to Customs tariff classification and valuation, tax base, Nigerian regulatory agencies, customs brokers, currency conversion tools and lots more.

Dikko said it was in continuation of the vision of working together with partner agencies in Government and the private sector, that the Service also developed and launched a new Application System known as the Pre Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR), which allows for Pre arrival documentations and clearance of goods into all our Ports.

“The launch of PAAR has helped to build stronger relationship with the business sector. By its configuratiaon, Importers and operators who have demonstrated high level of integrity in their declarations are flagged. To encourage them, 175 of them have been admitted into a new Fast Track system.

“These companies now enjoy special concessions like blue lane selection, inspection at owners premise and exclusive membership of the Customs Compliance Ambassadors Group”, he posited, stressing that “with the level of modernization so far attained in Customs operation”, he was assuring the existing and potential investors in Nigeria, that they indeed find the country, absolutely ready for business.-International Trade Monitor

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