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Flexibility Of Bauchi Tax Policy ‘ll Attract Investors – Abubakar

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In this interview with RALIAT AHMED-YUSUF, Bauchi state Commissioner for Trade, Industry and Investment, GAZALI ABUBAKAR speaks on the numerous achievements of the ministry in the last few years in terms of investment, trade, ease of doing business for investors and others.

It’s three years down the line of Governor Abubakar’s regime.What has changed, especially regarding your ministry – trade, industry and investment?

A lot has changed under the leadership of his Excellency,Governor Muhammed Abubakar, especially with my ministry. Initially,it was ministry of commerce, industry and cooperatives. When his Excellency came on board,the ministries were sixteen but it was increased to twenty which gave birth to ministry of trade, industry and investment. We have achieved a lot under this government. We signed an agreement with the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Trust Fund. It was introduced by the federal government to produce about 100,000,000mt of fertilizer with the fertilizer blending plant situated in Bauchi so that there would be production of enough fertilizer for farmers. This is not serving only Bauchi state but the whole of Northeast which has already commenced and tremendous success is being recorded. Talking about the fertilizer blending plant, is it solely a state project or the federal government is involved? The FG provides the raw materials while the Bauchi plant does the production. So far, we are supplying all the North Eastern parts of Nigeria. The fertilizer blending plant is producing at maximum capacity. There used to be just one shift in a day but with the coming of his Excellency, the production has increased to four shifts in 24hrs which has generated employment opportunity,especially for our youths. Money was also made available by the Bauchi state government to upgrade the facilities that is why we have recorded very huge success.

What other area of trade and investment has the government been able to impact the life of an average Bauchi person?

We also have the Bauchi meat factory which has the capacity of slaughtering 1,200 cows per day. When we came on board the place was out of production but we engaged some consultants. We plan to go into PPP(Public Private Partnership) because the meat factory is one of the best in the whole of West Africa .We are in talks with three different companies for the purpose of the PPP though we are yet to conclude because the meat factory belongs to both Bauchi and Gombe though Bauchi owns 70percent of it. There is school feeding programme ongoing in which the butchers supply the meat factory with cows.Right now the place is reviving because most of the facilities are dilapidated – it was constructed in the 60s during the time of the Sardauna.We also have a project under the world bank where we plan to have a stable outlet where the Bank of Industry(BoI) will give the butchers soft loan to help then do fattening. The inland container depot is also another major project which has been on for a long time. It was when his excellency came that consultants were invited and now they have concluded and as we speak it is now on the website of the federal ministry of transport.We are just looking for investors to come and invest. Some investors from UK who saw it on the website of the federal ministry of transportation have signified interest in investing. How is the state attracting investors since you have a lot of projects under your ministry? The Bauchi government has been able to attract investors through some of His Excellency’s trip abroad. Another advantage we have is the Bauchi state investment promotion agency that was introduced by His excellency which is a one stop shop for any investor that comes to Bauchi. An investor does all his documentation which at the council- this has saved a lot of bureaucracy in documentation.That is one major achievement which will help with the ease of doing business.

As a ministry,what are the challenges in running such a big ministry?

Basically, the major challenge we faced when we came on board was the issue of lack of funds and also lack of commitment because money will be given but work would not be done. His excellency insisted that once he gives a project it must be done. With his determination we have achieved a lot.Money is not being wasted and workers are made to do the right thing. How will you in your own capacity showcase the work done so far by your ministry under your watch? We are trying to create a platform through websites where from any part of the country once you log in you can see all the activities of the ministry. That is where we are showing the world the comparative advantage we have for investors to come and invest since the ministry is about trade and investment. There is always this free trade zone given to attract investors.

Is there any peculiar one given by Bauchi state government?

Yes there is.For instance when investors come, the Bauchi government offers them land.The tax policy is such that any investor will be interested.There is no much rigidity in the process and that makes it easy for investors.That is the purpose for the Bauchi investment promotion council was created. There used to be Bauchi furniture factory.What is the state now? When we came on board, Bauchi furniture industry was not producing.We visited the place to find out what the problem was and we found out that it was mismanagement which we are now addressing. Everything is there with state of the art equipment but the place was not just operating. His excellency again injected about N13m to offset some of the liability to kick start the factory again.We are working on restructuring the management so that they can perform better.A board has also been constituted because there was none before now.

Where do you see Bauchi state in few years from now going by the numerous achievements listed so far?

I want to assure you that Bauchi is first home of tourists and industrial activities and this will improve in the nearest future.His Excellency’s foreign trips may not yield results immediately as we know MoUs take time but in the nearest future the results will be seen. Recently,we had a partnership with Morocco.The governor embarked on the trip two years ago but we are just reaping the gains of the visitation.So in about a year or two from now,Bauchi will improve in terms of investment and the rest of it.



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