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Governor Otu seeks World Bank assistance in bridging global economic gaps

Cross River State governor, Senator Bassey Otu has called on the World Bank and other multilateral agencies to assist in bridging the socioeconomic gap between Africa and the rest of the world.

Governor Otu made the call recently when he hosted a team from the World Bank in Calabar, the state capital.

The team was in the Cross River State on a fact-finding mission to federal government agencies in the state, as well as looking at issues limiting trans-African free trade.

Otu, who described the team’s visit as timely, stated that it became imperative to reduce the barriers inhibiting free trade, especially in the African region.

“My call to the World Bank is to strive to balance the world’s economy. We still have a lot of migrant pressures across the world. This is because the global economy is not stable. Once the economy is unbalanced, there is always going to be that pressure.

“It is time for things to be relaxed for other regions to grow at their own pace. International organisations like the World Bank and the United Nations should make an effort to ensure that things are balanced.

“In Cross River, we have all it takes in terms of resources and productivity. But there still lies some variance. You are coming at a more auspicious time when windows of economic development have to be open. We happen to be quite a blessed state with three corridors of wealth – water, land and air.

“There is no excuse whatsoever for Cross River not to move up the socioeconomic ladder. Those times have passed. We want to truly move forward,” the governor enthusiastically stated.

The Governor told the World Bank team that the state government, in collaboration with the Calabar Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (CALCIMA), is working on a project that is dealing with some of the issues put before them, citing the burgeoning Nfum border trade, valued at over 15 million dollars, but without any meaningful revenue accruing to the state tax net.

He posited that Cross River is comparatively advantageous in the Gulf of Guinea, both in terms of proximity and cultural affinity, calling on investors to take advantage of the many opportunities for investment in the area.

“We are putting things in place to address such leaks for the benefit of the people and government of Cross River State.”

Otu further called on the World Bank, through the Team Leader, Aleksandar Stojorov, to help in harnessing the economic potentials inherent in the State, informing that Cross River is rated among the two best states for ease of doing business in Nigeria, adding that, “our Government is focused. We are building a sub-national economy that is hoped to outgrow the national economy.

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In his remarks, the World Bank team lead, Aleksandar Stojorov, thanked the governor for his support and cooperation which enabled the delegation to visit the Nfum border in Etung local government area, and the Nigeria Ports Authority, Calabar.

He said the fact-finding mission will help his team in its engagement with the federal government of Nigeria’s Ministry of Trade and Investment as well as other related agencies, with the objective to make trans-African trade seamless, enhance its export competitiveness for the overall benefit of the state and nation at large.

The President of Calabar Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (CALCIMA) Mr David Etim also expressed his commitment to the success of the Ease of Doing Business initiative in Cross River State.

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