Member companies of the National industrial free zone have requested government to extend the free zone regime in order to enable them benefit from its advantages. The companies also requested for the reimbursement of the valued added tax and that government should see into the currency shortage issue that renders them unable to pay for foreign supplies. The businessmen were speaking in a meeting with the Minister of Mines, Industry and Technological Development that took place at the premises of the National Office of the Industrial free zone, ONZFI in Douala on Monday August 5. The business men also complained of bottlenecks with the customs department notable the 12 per cent tax for recycling companies while those of the cocoa sector complained about the law of 18 April 2013 which abrogates some of the advantages they had as members of the industrial free zone. Others had a problem of status as their companies have not yet been given the license to operate.
In response, the Minister of Mines, Industry and Technological Development, Gabriel Dodo Ndoke promised to look into the issues that pertain to his ministerial department and to channel the other concerns to the concerned administrations for urgent solutions. He said the industrial free zone will continue despite changes in the nomenclature of the titular ministry or change of administrators saying he will seek to accompany enterprises during this transitional period while waiting for the extension of the free zone regime whose expiry has put some companies in difficulties. He said consultations were underway towards the extension of the free zone regime.
The General Manager of ONZFI, Robert Tchounga said the structure created since 1990, faces difficulties in the development of the regime, instability in the fiscal regime applied in the industrial free zone, precarious security situation for companies based in the Far North, North West and South West regions as well as attempts to divert approvals or authorisations. ONZFI, he said, regroups about 40 companies operating in the domains of agroindustry; (cocoa, coffee, tea, fruits and vegetables, wines and spirits), recycling of metals, production of construction material and wood processing. The challenge ahead is moving from an industrial free zone to that of an economic zone, he said.