By Paulyne Eba and Ojong Agbor
The Cross River State Government is more determined to work closely with the management of the Calabar Export Free Trade Zone (CFTZ) on how best to enforce compliance to its statutory internally generated revenue charges on operations in the trade zone.
Speaking while addressing the management of the CFTZ in his office, the State Deputy Governor, Prof. Ivara Esu maintained that the measure became necessary in view of the state’s desire to benefit from the activities of various business concerns within the catchment zone.
The Deputy Governor stated that the state is currently not benefiting from activities directly or indirectly from the Zone, “it is worrisome that the state is even being short-changed and even being taken for granted.” He said.
According to him, the attendant negative impact on our environment as well as undue negative pressure on the state infrastructure has become a cause for concern to any responsible government.
Prof. Esu said the situation can no longer be tolerated as government cannot fold it arms and watch the disturbing trend. He called for synergy between the state Government operatives and all stakeholders with a view to working out modalities for payment of statutory charges, stating that the gesture will help guarantee industrial peace as well as enhance increase government investment at the zone.
He decried the lack of local content at the various levels of staff disposition in most of the establishments in the zone as well as the poor sanitary conditions at the zone and advised the management to key into the broader vision of the state government in the regard.
Responding, the General Manager of the Free Trade zone, Engineer Okimba Godwin Egbe, underscored the contributions of the state Government to the success of the scheme which he noted was fundamentally designed to provide employment and wealth for our teeming population.
The GM reiterated that the zone will continue to collaborate with the state government in order to actualize its predetermined objective and also enhance cooperation and collaboration.
Speaking earlier, the consultant on legal matters to the state and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) Barr. Mrs Nella Andem Rabana, maintained that it was within the legal framework of the enabling law establishing the zone to ensure that the legitimate charges are made on certain aspects of business operations within the zone which is in line with Government effort at establishing in the first place.
The Senior Advocate averred that the state has a right to enforce charges on all its entitlements based on equity and mutual respect, adding that the peaceful disposition of Cross Riverians should not be viewed as a weakness.
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