Senator Hadi Sirika, Nigeria’s Minister of Aviation recently announced the designation of four international Nigerian airports, the Murtala Muhammad International Airport, Lagos; Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja; Port-Harcourt International Airport, and the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano, as special economic zones.
The announcement followed the approval granted by President Muhammadu Buhari to that effect.
The Nigeria Ministry of Aviation (NMA) said, in its desire to address issues concerning taxation, customs duties and fiscal issues in the Nigerian Aviation industry which require a holistic solution, it had requested the Nigerian Export Processing Zone Authority (NEPZA) to designate the four major international Airports under NEPZA Act.
According to NMA, the request was made so that the benefits of such zones can be accorded to all airlines, airport operators, aviation support companies, etc. that reside within the zones which the President noted, and approved.
Some of the benefits include harnessing the socio-economic benefits derivable from civil aviation, generating revenues for Government and creating avenues to mobilize local and foreign direct investment for the overall growth of the economy.
The designation is also expected to attract more international and domestic airlines and world-class organisations into the Nigerian aviation industry thereby fast-tracking the upgrade and development of new infrastructure/facilities at the airports.
The Special Economic Zones would also help to reduce the tax burden on aviation companies to enable them to compete internationally and create around the airports a more efficient and business-friendly trade environment comparable to other countries, with less bureaucratic red tape because of the associated fiscal incentives and packages.
The operation of the airports as special economic zones would also help to generate employment opportunities and human capital development, improve the overall ease of doing business in Nigeria which is in line with the Federal Government’s commitment towards national economic development.
Another benefit is the generation of additional non-aeronautical sources of revenue for the Aviation Industry.
According to the Ministry, as promised at the inception of the Buhari administration, the government remains committed to the development of an investment-friendly aviation sector that will not only make Nigeria a regional hub for air transportation but increase its contribution to the national gross domestic product (GDP).
In the light of the foregoing, Sen. Sirika appealed for the cooperation of all relevant stakeholders in the new development to achieve the desired goals.