By HELEN TARAWA
NORTHERN Governor Gary Juffa has cautioned the Government on the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) initiative that was passed by Parliament on Thursday.
Juffa, while debating the SEZ bill, said it may be a game changer but the Government should consider the ramifications on how to manage these economic zones.
He urged the Government to analyse a report by the World Bank into the pros and cons of those zones.
“The zones propose generous tax holidays in instances where Customs duties are done away with but sometimes laws on workers’ rights are relaxed to the degree that they are detriment to the workers.
“The economic zones are white elephants and there were examples throughout the world.
“SEZ do not make it a net positive for the economy and also displace the indigenous people from their land.
“There are instances where SEZs can be havens for money laundering and transnational criminal activities.
“I’m not against SEZs but I’m just pointing out that we have to manage them very carefully.
“When we do embark on these programmes, we must ensure to put necessary mechanisms to ensure that these are not failing.”
Juffa said Customs was the lead agency for the SEZ need to be empowered to perform their duties.
He said the National Intelligence Organisation (NIO) was another government agency that needed to be fixed to be the eyes and ears of the country.
“The intelligence community has been allowed to deteriorate; this is the eyes and ears of any economy.
“It’s a great idea but it can be exploited by those who come in with ulterior motives.
“I’m just adding caution, it may be an idea that succeeds, I am all for it.
“Our economy is expanding our resources are fast but we don’t have a capacity to monitor what is happening in this country.
“Let’s be careful with what we are doing, let’s ensure that we are doing the right thing.”