Okechukwu Enelamah, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, says that the N14.3 billion meant for Nigeria Special Economic Zones Company is still in Central Bank of Nigeria account.
Enelamah made the clarification in Abuja on Thursday at a news conference.
He said: “The Federal Government has already released N14.3 billion as part of its 25 per cent (125 million dollars) investment commitment to the company.
“The remaining 75 per cent (375 million dollars) will soon be provided by other private investors. N14.3 billion has been transferred to Central Bank of Nigeria’s account of NSEZCO, and the money is still there intact, waiting for other investors.’’
The Senate in April directed Enelemah and the acting Managing Director of Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority, Terhemba Nongo, to return N14.3 billion to the purse of the Federal Government.
The Senate alleged that the money was transferred from NEPZA’s account into the account of a private company, the Nigerian Special Economic Zone Company.
Enelamah said that the Federal Government had done a lot in the area of Ease of Doing Business.
He said the ministry had improved the operational environment for businesses in the country supported the growth of Medium and Small-scale Enterprises.
According to him, the ministry has contributed significantly to attracting more foreign investments into the country in the last four years.
He said: “The removal of bottlenecks has enhanced reduction of challenges encountered by Small and Medium Enterprise and other businesses in areas such as starting a business; access to credit and paying taxes.
“Others are enforcing contracts or trading within and across borders while investor interest in Nigeria has increased.
“Investment announcements of 90.9 billion dollars recorded in 2018, is 37 per cent increase over the 66.4 billion dollars tracked in 2017.’’
On industrialisation, Enelamah said the implementation of the Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan and the establishment of the Nigeria Industrial Policy and Competitiveness Advisory Council was yielding result.
He said the council had made many high-level interventions to address industrial sector issues such as electricity supply, broadband penetration and access roads.
He said: “In the last four years, there have been sustained efforts to build capacity, increased access to finance and eliminate bottlenecks to conducting business in Nigeria.”
Enelamah said the ministry had increased access to finance for Micro- Small and Medium Enterprises by providing capital for both start-ups and expansion through the interventions of the Bank of Industry and the World Bank-funded Growth and Employment Project.
He said that the National Council on Micro Small and Medium Enterprises for more focus on MSMES had been set up.
He said: “Between January 2015 and October 2018, the bank disbursed a total of N487.5 billion to 3,334 large, medium and small enterprises.
“Under the GEM project, a total of N3.7 billion has been disbursed to 910 grantees via the grant windows, while over 21,191 MSMEs have received technical assistance.’’
According to him, to accelerate the Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan, work has continued on Project MINE, (Made in Nigeria for Exports), to aid structural transformation of the Nigerian economy by increasing the manufacturing sector’s contribution to GDP to 20 per cent by 2025.
He said the project would also contribute to sustainable inclusive growth by creating 1.5 million new direct manufacturing jobs in the initial phase.
Enelamah said the project would also increase and diversify foreign exchange earnings to at least 30 billion dollars annually by 2025 by increasing manufacturing sector exports.