Finance experts have disagreed with the International Monetary Fund’s latest recommendation to the Federal Government to raise its tax rate in order to meet Nigeria’s huge amount spent on debt servicing and developmental projects.
The Federal Government spends an average of N2tn annually servicing its debt obligation to local and foreign creditors.
About $3 trillion is reportedly needed in the next 30 years to address the country’s infrastructure deficit.
But the IMF last Wednesday called for an effective debt management strategy that would ensure that the amount borrowed posed limited risk and the funds deployed for developmental purposes.
The global body said that with Nigeria having one of the lowest tax revenue in the world, it would be challenging to service its debt obligations without broadening the fiscal space.
The nation’s total public debt rose by N3.32 trillion in one year to N25.7 trillion as at the end of June 2019, the Debt Management Office said last Tuesday.
The Federal Government owed N20.42 trillion as of June 30, 2019 while the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory had a total debt portfolio of N5.28 trillion.
Shedding more light on how the Federal Government could boost revenue, Cathy said the priority was how to increase non-oil tax revenue.
She said this was vital based on the fact that the country’s interest payments as a share of tax were very high.
She added: “On Nigeria, the priority is a comprehensive reform to increase non-oil tax and there are a number of reasons this will contribute to creating space for important spending in infrastructure and human development spending.
“For Nigeria, this is very important for a number of reasons. One, because right now, interests payment as share of tax are very high around a third of overall and two-thirds for the Federal Government.”
Responding, a Professor of Economics at the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago Iwoye, Sheriffdeen Tella, said the advice to raise tax had to be analysed to determine whether the IMF was asking Nigeria to increase tax or widen the tax net to accommodate those that are not currently captured.
He said: “If they are advising that we should keep increasing tax, that will not be proper. The economy of Nigeria is currently weak and tax is a function of the income of the people. Increasing tax will be putting too much pressure on income.
“We should rather talk of reschedule the existing loan to enable us to have a longer time to pay or pay less. In addition to this, we need to widen the tax net.”
On his part, the Director General of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mr Muda Yusuf, pointed out that economic growth through reforms would happen if there was greater commitment to creating an enabling environment for investors.
He said the tax paying segment of the economy had been victim of regulatory and policy shocks in recent years.
”Monetary policy is tight enough in my view. Calling for more tightening will be overkill. Lending rates are high and government borrowing continues to have a crowding out effect on the private sector. We need to push back on portfolio flows as the pillar for stabilising the forex market. I subscribe to the demand for the rationalisation of the multiple forex windows and rates, he said.”
A former President, Association of National Accountants of Nigeria, Dr Sam Nzekwe, noted that many Nigerian businessmen were not paying taxes except workers, whose taxes were being deducted from their salary.
He said: “They should be proactive, go to the people and widen the tax net, they should bring those who are not paying tax into the tax net.”
The Chief Executive Officer, Enterprise Stockbrokers, Mr Rotimi Fakayejo, said the advice given by the IMF to Nigeria was not progressive because it would impair productivity of businesses.
CBN Releases N756bn To Over 3m Farmers To Boost Food Security
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), says it has released the sum of N756.51 billion to 3,734,938 small holder farmers, cultivating 4.6 million hectares of land, to boost the Federal Government’s food security initiative.
Mr Godwin Emefiele, the CBN Governor, made this known while presenting a communiqué from the bank’s recently held, 280th meeting of its Monetary Policy Committee (MPC).
Emefiele said that N120.24 billion of the sum was extended for the 2021 wet season to 627,051 farmers for 847,484 hectares of land, under the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP).
“The sum of N121.57 billion was disbursed to 32,617 beneficiaries.
“For the Targeted Credit Facility (TCF), N318.17 billion was released to 679,422 beneficiaries, comprising 572,189 households and 107,233 Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs),’’ he said.
Emefiele revealed that the apex bank also expended huge sums in its youth investment scheme, to empower Nigerian youths, and to reduce unemployment by providing to the creative sector and Information Technology.
“Under the National Youth Investment Fund (NYIF), the Bank released N3.0 billion to 7,057 beneficiaries, of which 4,411 were individuals and 2,646 SMEs.
“Under the Creative Industry Financing Initiative (CIFI), N3.22 billion was disbursed to 356 5 beneficiaries across movie production, movie distribution, software development, fashion, and IT verticals,’’ he said.
The CBN Governor also revealed that the apex bank had invested close to N1trillion to boost the real sector of the economy, covering 251 real sector projects.
He said that the bank’s intervention also spanned health sector support initiatives and electricity distribution.
“Under the N1.0 trillion Real Sector Facility, the Bank released N923.41 billion to 251 real sector projects, of which 87 were in light manufacturing, 40 in agro-based industry, 32 in services and 11 in mining.
“On the N100 billion, Healthcare Sector Intervention Facility (HSIF), N98.41 billion was disbursed for 103 health care projects, of which, 26 are pharmaceuticals and 77 are in the hospital services.
“Similarly, the sum of N232.54 million was disbursed to five beneficiaries under the CBN Healthcare Sector Research and Development Intervention (Grant) Scheme (HSRDIS) for the development of testing kits and devices for COVID-19 and Lassa Fever.
“On the National Mass Metering Programme (NMMP), N36.04 billion was disbursed to 17 Meter Asset Providers to nine Distribution Companies (DisCos), for the procurement and installation of 657,562 electricity meters,’’ Emefiele said.
Siat Assures Host Communities Of Fair Deal … Offers 15 Varsity Students Scholarships
As part of its Corporate Social Responsibility to its host communities, an agro-allied company located in Rivers State, Siat Nigeria Limited, has assured that it would continue to cater for the wellbeing and needs of the indigenes of the communities where it is doing business even as it has offered undergraduate scholarship awards to 15 students from the areas.
The company, which gave the assurance during the presentation of scholarship awards to the students at its corporate headquarters in Ubima Community in Ikwerre Local Government Area recently, said it would continue to promote a harmonious working relationship with its host communities and strive as much as possible to contribute to their growth and development.
The Managing Director of the company, Mr Felix Nwabuko, who gave the indication in an address during the company’s this year’s undergraduate scholarship programme, said the scholarship initiative is just one of the corporate social responsibility lined up by the company for its host communities.
According to him, the university scholarship award is intended to assist and encourage students of the host communities in the areas of Agriculture, Agricultural Economics, Accounting and Engineering.
While congratulating the beneficiary students on their success during the scholarship examination, Nwabuko noted that they are by this award, ambassadors of not only their communities but Siat Nigeria Limited, and urged them to exhibit good behaviour throughout the duration of their university education.
“It is our fervent belief that the beneficiaries will avail themselves of this singular opportunity and study hard to become good citizens of not only the communities they came from but the society at large”, he said.
Nwabuko commended the government at both the state and local levels for providing the enabling environment for the company’s operations as well as the peace the firm has enjoyed from the host communities.
He noted with delight that despite the Covid-19 pandemic, and its associated harsh economic effects, Siat Nigeria Limited did not lay off its workers like other companies including banks, stressing that it was because the company took into consideration the excellent relationship and goodwill it has with the host communities.
The beneficiaries of the scholarship were drawn from the company’s Ubima and Elele estates.
The first round of the scholarship programme took place in 2016 and the beneficiaries, according to the company, have all graduated.
By: Donatus Ebi
AKK Project Will Enhance Gas Utilisation For Industrialisation – Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari says successful completion of the Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano, AKK Project in 2023 would enhance domestic gas utilisation as the mainstay for national industrialisation.
Buhari stated this at the opening ceremony of the 2021 Gas Sector Stakeholders (AKK) Forum organised by the Gas Aggregation Company Nigeria (GACN) yesterday in Kano.
He was represented by the Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva.
“Today’s event reinforces our commitments to realizing the inherent potentials of gas usage as a national catalyst for achieving economic diversification from crude oil and as transition period to the renewable energy,” he said.
He revealed that the project would also increase government revenue and create more jobs opportunities for the unemployed Nigerians.
The President said that many companies had been shut down due to power supply problem across the country.
He explained that it would take two to three years to reactivate those industries to their optimal performance.
Buhari also said that the Federal Government has reduced the price of gas from 2 dollars 50 cents to 2 dollars 18 Cents.
“Let me use this medium to announce that following successful negotiations between Federal Government of Nigeria and organized unions, the price of gas has been reduced from $2.50 Cents to $2.18 Cents, with immediate effects,” he said.
He said that all the relevant stakeholders had been communicated on the issue.
Also speaking, the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mr Mele Kyari, said that the AKK project had been on the drawing board for the past 30 years.
Kyari said when completed, it would provide enough gas for both domestic and export purposes.
“Nigeria has huge gas resources, gas means prosperity and delivering gas is an opportunity creation,” he said.
He pointed out that the project would revive about 232 industries along AKK corridor.
In his remarks, the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Aminu Ado-Bayero, commended the Federal Government for the project, which he said, would also assist to enhance socioeconomic activities in the state.
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