Designation of airports as special economic zones – The benefits

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*Sirika

James Odaudu

Recently, the minister of aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika announced the designation of four international Airports, the Murtala Muhammad International Airport, Lagos, Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, Port-Harcourt international Airport, and the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airports as special economic zones.

The announcement followed the approval granted by President Muhammadu Buhari to that effect.

It has become necessary to highlight the inherent benefits of the designation and operation of the airports as special economic zones.

The ministry of aviation in its desire to address issues concerning taxation, custom duties and fiscal issues in the Nigerian aviation industry which require a holistic solution, had requested the Nigerian Export Processing Zone Authority (NEPZA) to designate the four major international airports under NEPZA Act.

The request was made so that the benefits of such zones can be accorded 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 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 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 federal government’s commitments towards national economic development.

Another benefit is the generation of additional non-aeronautical sources of revenue for the aviation industry.

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).

The minister of aviation Senator Hadi Sirika therefore appeals for the cooperation of all relevant stakeholders in the new development in order to achieve the desired goals.

*Odaudu is spokesman for the ministry of aviation

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