We’ll protect infant industries, encourage investments-FG tells ECOWAS

The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed says Nigeria will continue to deploy fiscal policies that protect emerging industries.
This is just as she insisted that the federal government will do all within its capacity to encourage Investments in critical sectors of the economy.

The minister made the commitment in Abuja at the opening session of 4th Meeting of the ECOWAS Finance Ministers on the Consolidation of ECOWAS Customs Union yesterday in Abuja.

Zainab noted that it “is with a view to achieving the effective implementation of the country’s Agricultural Promotion Policy (APP) and the Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP) within the transitional period of 5 years of implementation of the GET (2015-2019).”

She explained that the country’s position is without prejudice to the spirit of regional integration and free trade protcols as Nigeria has been in forefront of supported trade trade policies.

According to her, “like every developing economy, Nigeria’s vision to industrialize is very strong. Accordingly, we believe ECOWAS Common External Tarrif (CET) should be designed to promote regional industrialization in a manner that on the long term reduces dependence on imports. We will continue to work within ECOWAS to achieve these laudable objectives” she promised.

“Nigeria believes fervently that ECOWAS regional policies such as the CET, the Customs Union and other fiscal policies should aim seriously at achieving economic growth and industrialization for member states, while reducing import dependency.

“Nigeria therefore believes West Africa, while desiring integration into the global economy, should diversify its economy through manufacturing, processing of primary products and other forms of economic modernization” she noted.

In this regard, Nigeria effectively commenced the implementation of the ECOWAS CET in April 2015, with additional measures under the ECOWAS approved Supplementary Protection” she explained.

Some of the majors taken she said include; “an Import Adjustment Tax (IAT) List which involves additional taxes on 177 Tariff Lines of the CET 2015 2019; A National list consisting of items whose import duty rates have been reviewed downwards to encourage rapid development in strategic sectors of the economy and an import Prohibition List (Trade) applicable only to certain goods originating from Third Countries.”

The minister also used the occasion for advocate for more controls on tobacco in the subregion to minimise the health hazzards associated with tobacco.
On taxation she said “the draft regulations on an ECOWAS Tax Treaty Model and Mutual Assistance in Tax Collection can potentially ease tax treaties negotiations among the Member States, eliminate tax evasion/avoidance within the region, encourage tax audit and exchange of tax information as well as enhance regional integration.

“As a matter of fact, these Regulations will also assist to deepen the integration of the region with the global strategies to improve public revenue through the elimination of tax malpractices” she noted.

“I wish to assure you of Nigeria’s commitment to a sustainable, functional regional economic integration project that will, in the long run, facilitate economic growth and social prosperity for the peoples of West Africa. I also assure of Nigeria’s readiness to support the outcomes of today’s meeting” she assured.

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