Buhari urged to de­clare N/East tax-free zone to at­tract in­vestors

Daily Trust - - BUSINESS - By Hamisu Muham­mad & Victoria Onehi

Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari has been urged to de­clare the North East re­gion a tax free zone for the next five years as an in­cen­tive to at­tract new in­vestors and en­cour­age ex­ist­ing ones.

The re­gion, which is rav­age by the Boko Haram in­sur­gency for al­most six years, has been suf­fer­ing from youth un­em­ploy­ment, mal­nu­tri­tion, poverty and mil­lions of dis­placed peo­ple.

Speak­ing at the sign­ing of the N11 bil­lion coal pow­ered plant for Ashaka Ce­ment Plc, chair­man of the com­pany, Malam Suleiman Yahyah, who made the call said at the mo­ment Ashaka Ce­ment Plc, is the only in­dus­trial busi­ness in the re­gion of about 23 mil­lion peo­ple that has suf­fered in­sur­gency.

He said: “We have lime­stone in abun­dance, we have wa­ter re­sources, we have agri­cul­tural re­sources and now we have dis­cov­ered coal and sev­eral other re­sources are un­tapped. Mr Min­is­ter, I pray that you take this our prayers to the coun­cil at the next meet­ing and re­quest Mr Pres­i­dent that this will send a strong sig­nal to in­vestors.”

“Mr Pres­i­dent can do this by an ex­ec­u­tive or­der since par­lia­ment is on re­cess. We need this ac­tion now be­cause soon af­ter we ap­proved this project, it took us al­most 10 months to come to this sign­ing cer­e­mony,” he added.

He said de­spite the chal­lenges of the re­gion, the man­age­ment com­mit­ted al­most 85% of the com­pany’s cash re­serve, to pro­vide power.

The Ashaka Ce­ment chair­man said if govern­ment came up with such in­cen­tives, “this would con­firm that our de­ci­sion will not be in vain and in­vestors will come to that re­gion.

“Also, Gombe State, one of the re­source rich states in Nige­ria will be­come the in­dus­trial hub for the North East em­ploy­ing large num­ber of skilled and un­skilled man­power cham­pi­oned com­pany.”

Speak­ing on the im­por­tance of the project, Malam Yahyah said by 2018, when Ashaka would be cel­e­brat­ing its 40th an­niver­sary, it would also be cel­e­brat­ing its in­de­pen­dence from the na­tional grid. “We will no longer be re­ly­ing on Yola Disco for our en­ergy re­quire­ments,” he said.

Fol­low­ing the con­tract sign­ing, the con­trac­tor, RUNH Power Corp - a pro­fes­sional com­plete power equip­ment sup­plier and a power plant ex­pert - is ex­pected to mo­bilise to site for start-up ac­tiv­i­ties in Septem­ber to com­plete the project by end of Q1 2018. by Ashakacem

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