Posted by News Express | 29 March 2019 | 1,063 times
Some economists under the auspices of the Institute of Chartered Economists of Nigeria (ICEN) have lamented that Nigeria suffered a loss of about $22.6 5 billion since the closure of Aluminum Smelter Company of Nigeria (ALSCON) at Ikot Abasi, Akwa Ibom, in 2013
The economists attributed this to the legal tussle between BFIG Group and a Russian company, UC RUSAL, over the ownership of the company.
They urged the Federal Government to prevail on the Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE) to implement the 2012 judgment by the Supreme Court on the plant
The South-South Coordinator of ICEN, Mr. Friday Udoh, who spoke on Thursday in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, attributed the prolonged shut-down of the aluminum smelter plant to the activities of BPE.
He noted that the bureau under the supervision of National Council for Privatization (NCP) had privatised the Aluminum plant in 2007 but one of the bidders went to court to challenge the bid process.
Udoh said the matter was adjudicated at various courts and in July 6, 2012 in the Supreme Court in favour of the BFIG group but BPE did not comply with the Supreme Court decision but pitched its tent with the Russian firm.
The ICEN South-South Coordinator noted that BPE’s disregard of the apex court judgments would negatively impact on Foreign Direct Investment inflow as no serious investors will want to commit its investment in an economy where rule of law is not adhered to.
“This is just the time the country needs investment to create and boost its export capacity and, more importantly, driving the needed economic growth.
“Already, the country has recorded a loss of $16.55 billion plus taxes that would have accrued to the host Local Government Area, State and the Federal Government bringing the cumulative loss to $22.65 billion.
“We all witnessed and watched very closely the stripping of assets and subterfuge move of BPE undermining court pronouncements, and its refusal to evict UC RUSAL to minimise the complete run-down of the plant through the questionable activities of the estranged owner.
“The issue is unimaginable and we think it probably boils down to one school of thought and, that which I entertained, that government has to intervene in ensuring that BPE does not drag the nation judiciary and the country into disrepute.
“We are talking about environment that will allow for investment to sustain economy, create jobs and provide funding for infrastructure improvement and maintenance of the existing ones for sustainable economy.
“We watched the very action of UC RUSAL very closely; obviously they have nothing to lose due to its dominant position in smelting and related downstream capacity in the global Aluminum market.
“We should not allow this to happen, else our economy, reputation and sovereignty is gone. The issue of sustainability is not negotiable, productivity must be thoroughly addressed for a nation to attain a level of sustainability,” the ICEN coordinator said.
The economists noted that only about 15 per cent of the firms privatised by BPE were running while 85 per cent were riddled by non-performance.
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