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GFZA plans for Special Economic Zones

The Ghana Free Zone Authority (GFZA) has announced plans to establish Special Economic Zones in every region of the country.

According to the Authority, the idea to create the Special Economic Zones is to locate factories selected for processing and manufacturing of goods close to the source of raw materials.

Mr Kwame Nsiah Asante, Head of Enclave and Estate Management of the GFZA announced this at a capacity building workshop for the Parliamentary Press Corps in Accra.

The seminar, which was on the theme: “The Parliamentary reporter as an effective link between Parliament and the public” is to equip members to understand the Free Zones concept to be able to educate the public.

The Ghana Free Zone Authority was established on August 31, 1995 by an Act of Parliament–the Free Zones Act, 1995 (Act 504), to enable the establishment of Free Zones in Ghana for the promotion of economic development, to provide for the regulation of activities in the free zones and for related purposes.

The Ghana Free Zones programme combines both the enclave and single-factory enterprise schemes, which is designated to provide processing and manufacturing of goods through the establishment of Export Processing Zones (EPZs) and encourage the development of commercial and service activities at sea and airport areas.

Mr Asante also announced a new visibility programme by the GFZA intended to meet potential local investors to educate them about the Free Zones idea.

He explained that, a lot of people in the country do not understand the Free Zones concept and as such, tend to create a lot of misconception in the system.

Mr Asante also hinted that the GFZA intend to send Act 504, which establishes the Free Zone, to Parliament for review.

According to him the law, which was passed about 23 years ago is in conflict with the regulations on the Investment Promotion Centre and other international laws concerning Free Zones.

He said, the Authority intend to cooperate with other stakeholder and agencies to ensure that the revised law deals with all the conflicts in the system.

Mr John Abuga, Head, Compliance and Monitoring at the GFZA announced that currently there are 235 Free Zones companies in the country, out of which 178 are active and 57 inactive.

He explained that the GFZA does not license companies limited by guarantee but only limited liabilities companies.

Mr Abuga also stated that free zone investors do not require any minimum capital investment, however they must indicate their ability to fulfil the minimum 70 per cent export requirement.

He said there are no conditions or restrictions on repatriation of dividends or net profit, and payments for foreign loans servicing among others.

Mrs Kristine Lartey, Head of Legal of the GFZA stated that the law which established the Free Zone indicated that at least 70 per cent of annual production of goods and services of Free Zone enterprises must be exported.

She said likewise 30 per cent of annual production of goods and services of Free Zone companies should be for sale in the local market.

She explained that free zone investments are guaranteed against nationalization and expropriation.

Mrs Lartey also stated that the Free Zone Act 504 provide investors with relief from various bureaucratic restrictions and statutory requirement such as expedited investment approval not exceeding 28 working days.

She explained that 100 per cent ownership of shares by any investor, foreign or local is allowed in the free zone enterprise.

Source: GNA

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