Enugu State governor, Sullivan Chime has faulted Federal Government’s reluctance to approve a Free Trade Zone (FTZ) for the South East geo-political zone despite its huge commercial and industrial potentials. Chime, who made the observation recently noted that the South East is the only the geo-political zone in the country without a Free Trade Zone (FTZ).
He stated this on the sidelines of the 26th Enugu International Trade Fair, which ended recently, lamenting that it remained unfair that out of the 35 free trade zones in the country, none was cited in the South East.
The Governor, who was represented by the Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Dr. Jude Akubuilo, said President Goodluck Jonathan had approved, in principle, the establishment of the facility for the people in the zone and urged him to give effect to the oral approval.
He said that the state government was waiting for the Federal Government to officially communicate the approval of the facility that would be sited between Enugu and Anambra states.
“We want to thank President Jonathan for this wonderful infrastructure and for his kind approval of the Enugu Free Trade Zone.
“We plead that, as a matter of urgency, his formal approval be communicated to us so that the South East will have the first of such facility,” he said.
Political, professional and investment groups in the eastern zone have equally made repeated appeals to the Federal Government to expedite approval of the Enugu FTZ, saying the facility would boost the industrialisation drive of the region.
But the Deputy Senate President, Mr. Ike Ekwerenmadu, had during a visit to the proposed site for the FTZ last week, said the Senate was in support of the project and would give any legislative assistance to make it a reality.
President of the South East and South South Professionals, Mr. EmekaUgwuoju, alongside some local and foreign investors, had said that the final approval of the FTZ would bring about the much needed catalyst to create jobs and further develop the zone.
Ugwuoju while appealing to President Jonathan to sign the approval of the facility, informed that huge investments have already been mobilised for the FTZ in anticipation of the his consent, lamenting that allowing such massive investment opportunities to elude the eastern zone would not be in the region’s interest.
He said the Enugu Free Trade Zone (EFTZ) was critical to a 30-year development plan drawn by the group for the South East and South South areas of the country, adding that the delay in the establishment of the facility would further ballon the country’s unemployment rate.
According to him, the FTZ has passed all establishment approval criteria set by the Federal Government, hence, it should be approved without further delay.