Free zones agency threatens stiff sanctions against erring operators

Mr Umana Okon Umana, MD, OGFZA
Mr Umana Okon Umana, MD, OGFZA

The Oil & Gas Free Zones Authority, OGFZA, has threatened stiff sanctions against operators who ignore all extant laws and regulations guiding their activities in the zones.

The managing director of the agency, Okon Umana, told a management meeting in Onne that the agency had already issued circulars to free zone investors to make its concern known on the issue.

Mr. Umana said the agency was particularly concerned about the abuse of pre-release facility by which companies were allowed to post bonds to effect release of their cargoes ahead of payment of the required fees.

The OGFZA boss said reports by the Customs authority in the free zones revealed that many operators failed to redeem their bonds, which, he said, was in violation of the condition precedent to the pre-release facility.

Section 1(b) of the memorandum of understanding between OGFZA and the clients, Mr. Umana pointed out, provided that “all Customs formalities, including payment of duty and perfection of the single goods declaration, will be completed within 14 days from the date the application is approved.”

He warned that those who fail to redeem their bonds within the stipulated period would not be allowed the benefit of the pre-release facility in subsequent shipments as provided for in section 5 of the MOU.

The managing director, however, assured that in upholding the laws and rules of engagement in the free zones, OGFZA would work in line with global best practices to ensure that the federal government was not shortchanged in terms of revenue.

“All parties in the free zones are entitled to a level-playing field. We promise a charter of equity and fairness to all,” the managing director said.

He said the circular recently issued modified and realigned procedures with regard to enforcement of applicable tariffs as well as approvals for customs, immigration and local content requirements in accordance with extant laws.

“All must ensure that the key performance indicators laid down in the OGFZA Roadmap launched last February are diligently pursued and achieved to usher in a new era of revenue growth and job creation in the free zones,” Mr. Umanah said.


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