Senate passes Oil and gas Free Zones Bill, AMCON bill
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The Senate has passed the Oil and Gas Free Zones (Amendment) Bill and the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria Bill.
The first bill is titled, “A bill for an act to amend the oil and gas export free zone authority”.
It seeks to provide a view for the designation and establishment of oil and gas free zones and sub zones.
It also seeks to provide and hasten economic growth in the country and empower individuals in the private and public sectors.
The bill was sponsored by Odion Ugbesia representing Edo Central senatorial district.
While presenting the report of the committee on ethics, privilege and public petition, Mr. Ugbesia said oil is the major source of income in Nigeria so there is a need to create a legal framework for it to function properly.
He also said the passage of the bill will encourage industrial development in the country.
“The bill is to bring the operation of free zone to international standard,” Mr. Ugbesia said. “The main feature is that the appointment of the chairman of the board must be subjected to senate approval.
“The other feature is that the tax holiday should be enjoyed fully by the operators of oil and gas in the industry.
“Free zones all over the world observe tax holidays that means you don’t pay tax. With this bill, we should do business without paying tax whatsoever because that is the incentive that operators in such zones enjoy and this is to encourage them.
“This in self provides the opportunity for free zones to contribute to the growth of the economy.”
He noted that the current free zones are not operating the way they should but the bill will aid in making things better.
“With this Bill I think things will change and we will begin to reap the benefits of actual free zone mechanism,” said Mr Ugbesia.
The deputy senate president, Ike Ekweremadu commeded his colleagues on the passage of the bill.
Mr. Ekweremadu said they will continue to partner with government to improve the governance structure of this vital sector.
The AMCON bill was also read for the third time and passed on Thursday.
It was conceived as part of the options for implementing the on-going reforms in the Nigerian banking, especially for the purchase of the non-performing loans from deposit money banks.
It was sponsored by Bassey Otu representing Cross-river south senatorial district.
The major need for its amendment was to strengthen the operations of AMCON.
It was read for the first time on Thursday, April 16, 2013 and read for the second time on Thursday, January 23.
The committee on banking, insurance and other financial matters held a public hearing on Monday, February 17, 2014 to generate inputs to enrich the bill.