By Steve Oko— UMUAHIA
Abia State Commissioner for Information, Chief Okiyi Kanu, has explained that the state’s emergence as the third most-preferred investment destination in Nigeria came as a result of the deliberate policies of the state government tailored towards economic recovery.
Okiyi, who made the explanation while reacting to the recent release by the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics (NBS) where Abia was ranked the third state with the highest foreign capital inflow among the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory for the year 2020.
According to the NBS release, Lagos had the highest inflow at $8.3 billion, followed by Abuja with $1.3 billion while Abia came third with $56 million.
The commissioner said the feat was recorded because trade and commerce occupy a central place in the development pillars index of the Governor Okezie Ikpeazu-led government.
He said Ikpeazu, who came on board as the Chief promoter of made-in-Abia goods, was bent on making Abia the investment capital of West Africa.
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According to Okiyi, the governor’s quest to revolutionalise the economy of the state through trade and commerce, where the state has a comparative advantage, led the governor into putting in place the vital enablers.
Okiyi said that during the first wave of the coronavirus epidemic, Governor Ikpeazu magnanimously gave tax waivers to business enterprises in the state to enabled them to remain in business.
The commissioner also identified Ikpeazu’s uncommon passion for the promotion of small and medium enterprises, SME; ease of doing business, and provision of the necessary infrastructure as part of the contributors to Abia’s success story.
He equally identified the multi-billion dollars Enyimba Economic City (EEC) project as one of the investors’ confidence boosters.
Okiyi said the government also granted special incentives to firms and SMEs in arrears of taxes and other levies.
His words: “For those in arrears of Abia Property and Land Use Charge, Abia, PLUC, the government waived two of the three years for all arrears paid before end of July 2020 and one of three years for payments made after August 2020.
“For payments associated with Change of Purpose Clause for property use, the government provided for reduction of the registration cost from a flat fee of N30,000 to N20,000 for payments made in July 2020 and N25,000 for payments made in August 2020.
“For issuance of Certificate of Occupancy (C of O), the government collected only 50 percent of the assessed fee for payments made in July and reduced the proportion of waiver by 10 percent for each month up till October, i.e. collecting 20 percent of assessed fee by October 2020.
“Ikpeazu’s also subscribed to the World Bank-sponsored States Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) programme with the state enjoying the highest rating within the South-East and South-South regions of the country, as well as being in the top five percent of best performing states in Nigeria.
“Through this programme, state governments are assessed for transparency in financial management and reporting with the World Bank and Office of the Auditor General of the federation”, Okiyi said.
The commissioner assured investors of a convivial business environment in Abia.
He further assured that the state government was fully committed to providing and rebuilding the necessary infrastructure that would help bring down the cost of doing business in the state.
According to him the ongoing road revolution in Aba is part of efforts to make Aba the economic capital of the South-East.
Okiyi, therefore, urged both local and foreign investors to make Abia their investment destination, assuring them of the security of their investments.