The Federal Executive Council (FEC) has approved a business plan for the development of a sea port in Badagry, Lagos State.
The Federal Government said that the project, which will gulp $2.5 billion of foreign investment, is at no cost to Nigeria.
When established, it will be the third sea port in the state. Others are the Tin Can and Apapa Ports.
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, who spoke with journalists after the FEC meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, explained that “it is basically the first step to approving the establishment of a new sea port in Badagry area, to take advantage of improved port facilities needed by bigger freighters and ships on the African continent.
“The Badagry port was long overdue. Our ports are behind in terms of technology in the maritime industry; there are bigger vessels now being built across the world that require larger depths and drafts to berth.
“Now some of our competitors on the continent like Djibouti are building bigger ports, so if we don’t build this port we risk becoming uncompetitive and we risk a threat to our maritime hub status in the sense that we may become a trans-shipment port instead of a port of original destination.
“The work started in 2012 and it is interesting that all of the financing is coming from the private sector. It was delayed because of the refusal of the last administration to grant approval for it because port development was under Federal Government control.”
The Minister of Transport, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, who was also at the briefing, added that by the concessional agreement, “it should take five years to construct.
“And in this period, when we are looking for foreign exchange, it is going to bring a total of $2.558 billion into the system and Federal and Lagos State governments would not contribute financially other than the land given by the state government,” he said.
Also yesterday, the government directed multinational firms operating in Nigeria to report their profits and taxes from overseas operations.
The move, he said, is designed to stop the companies from evading taxes in Nigeria.
The Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said the essence of the policy – Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement on the Exchange of Country by Country Report – was approved by FEC during its meeting chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Mohammed said that the policy will give the government a better grip on its tax laws and also prevent tax evasion and avoidance by the multinational companies.
“Where multinational companies operate in more than one country, it is quite easy for them to move profit from one territory to another territory where the tax law is very favourable to them.
He said: “What has happened over the years is that the revenue agencies have lost a lot of money. As at the last count, over $1trillion has been lost over a period of time and the revenue companies have found that they were losing more money in terms of tax evasion and avoidance than what they were even receiving as grants from multinational agencies.
“So, this is a law that provides that if a company like MTN or Nestle for instance, is operating in Nigeria, not only must it file returns on its activities in Nigeria, it must also file returns on its activities in every other country that they are doing business so that you can see whether there is any attempt to hide figures.
“Apart from shoring up our finances, I think it is part of the fight against corruption and it also enhances transparency,” the minister said.
Fashola further explained that the agreement is consistent with government’s macroeconomic policy to fund its operation and economy with more tax income as the prices of commodities, especially oil, become more threatened.