The Cross River State Commissioner of Finance, Mr Asuquo Ekpenyong Jr on Tuesday played host to a delegation of the Cross River State Privatization Council (CRSPC) at the Ministry of Finance (MOF).
The CRSPC Delegation which was led by the Chairman Mr John Odey, revealed the need to work closely with the Ministry of Finance to achieve the set goals and mandates which they were constituted to perform.
He added that the relationship between The Ministry of Finance and the State Privatization Council, especially in the present Administration, cannot be over emphasized and that this courtesy visit was quite timely and the synergy is of great importance at this point in time. He stated that it was for this reason that the Commissioner for Finance is a statutory member of the CRS Privatization Council.
According to him Privatization was responsible for the turnaround of State owned companies like Calcemco (now Lafarge) and Metropolitan Hotel (now Transcorp Hotels) which currently serves to increase the employment opportunities and gross domestic production in Cross River State.
“The present Administration is poised to put food on the table for every Cross Riverians and as such the Governor, His Excellency, Sen. Prof. Ben Ayade, is trying his best to transform the State from a Civil Service State to an industrialized one.
Barr Amiye, Executive Secretary of the Privatization Council went further to stress that their interest was to ensure that due diligence and processes were observed during the privatization of state owned investments especially in the aspect of employment and competitive bids.
Responding, Mr Asuquo Ekpenyong Jr disclosed that the present administration led by His Excellency, Sen Prof Ben Ayade has invested heavily in an Agro Industralization Revolution by developing and constructing industries across the senatorial districts of the State, these investments include the Ultra Modern Rice Mill, Ogoja, the State of the Art Cocoa Processing Mill, Ikom to about seven (7) industries clustered at the Ayade Industrial Park, Calabar, etc.
“With the current status of our economy amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the State Govt is particularly concerned with increasing its GDP, employment and tax revenues. It is oft said that Government has no business doing business and while this is true, the State Government desired these industries in Cross River State to boost her local economy. In 2015, at the inception of this administration we had wooed investors by showcasing our strategic and comparative advantage, however at the time, the Nation was going through a recession with low investor appetite to embark on new huge investments, consequently the administration led by His Excellency Senator Prof Ben Ayade took on the enormous task of mitigating the feasibility, financing, construction and implementation risk by doing it ourselves with the eventual strategy of divesting and privatizing the industries to ensure efficiency and effectiveness in operations & management”
He noted that the Nation’s continued Crude Oil dependence poses a great risk to her economic sustainability and hence there is an urgent need to turn to a technologically leveraged agro-allied industrial strategy for which Cross River State has a comparative advantage to lead.
The Honroable Commissioner disclosed that the government has began processes to engage competent and world renowned consultants as transaction advisers to the State Government in its privatization agenda.
Summarily, the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Finance, Mr Ikang Gabriel stated that the successful privatization of all the industries and state owned business, which His Excellency, Senator Prof. Ben Ayade has taken time to develop, will be the defining moments of the Administration. Hence, there was need for CRSPC to swing into action to ensure that Privatization of these industries are actualized within the stipulated timeline.