Debt Deficit: DMO, Centre Task Incoming Administration On Revenue Generation
Debt Management Office (DMO) and African Centre for Leadership, Strategy and Development (Centre LSD) have tasked the incoming government on revenue generation to tackle Nigeria’s debt deficit.
The stakeholders made the call on Wednesday, in Abuja at a one-Day Leadership and Development Policy Dialogue Series (LDPDS) with the theme “Nigerian Debt Sustainability Threat: Issues, implications, Lessons and Solutions for the Next Administration”
Director, Portfolio Management Department of the DMO, Mr Dele Afolabi, said that Nigeria had to be deliberate with revenue generation to harness a balanced economy because currently, the revenue did not match the high debt servicing burden of the country.
According to Afolabi, this is imperative since revenue pays debt because the more revenue you have ,the less you have to borrow going forward .
He said although Nigeria had the highest Gross Domestic Product(GDP) in Africa but its government generated revenue to GDP ratio is lower than that of most African countries and this can be tackled through taxes among others.
“The people are not paying the right taxes ,we don’t have the right culture of taxation and revenue for government. So, I think ,looking at the next government ,the key focus should be on how to grow government revenue.
“Most people really don’t pay taxes ,apart from people that receive salaries in the formal sector a lot of people are either not paying tax at all or not paying as they should ;so there a lot of leakages in terms of government revenue.
“If we have the highest GDP in Africa, then we should also have the highest revenue but that is not the situation.’’
Afolabi, therefore, recommended that government should reduce its over dependence on crude oil and harness other resources and solid minerals and block all leakages and grow revenue to reduce accumulating debt.
He also called for stringent action against tax defaulters adding that in other climes ,evading tax payment was criminal and people go to jail for it.
The Executive Director of Centre LSD, Mr Monday Osasah, said that the dialogue was imperative following the Federal Government outcry that Nigeria’s debt sustainability had become threatened following the recent rise in its revenue shortfalls.
Osasah said that according to the Minister of Finance, Nigeria is expected to spend 60 per cent of its total revenue on debt servicing in 2023 and this portended a grave threat to the economy.
“According to Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in its Nigerian domestic and foreign debt Q3 2022.
“Nigeria’s debt stock which includes external and domestic debt rose from N42.84trillion or 103.31 billion dollars in the second quarter of the 2022 to N44.06 trillion or 101.91 billion dollars in the third quarter same year.
“The debt figure comprised the debt stock of the Federal Government, the 36 states and FCT.
“The burgeoning trend of our debt is worrisome especially when it is now being used for debt servicing rather than for growing and developing our infrastructure .’’
Osasah said that Nigeria’s debt service-to-revenue ratio is put at 83 per cent of quarter 3,2022 and the ratio had been on the rise as Nigeria faced a dwindling government revenue while government expenditures have increased.
He said that considering the grim reality, the need for begin to think and commence advocacy for budgetary reforms, fiscal prudence and revenue innovation for the next government was paramount.
He said without these, it would difficult for the incoming administration to rescue the country from the weakening debt sustainability trend.
Prof. Isah Mohammed ,a Professor of Transport and Financial Economics ,Department of Economics ,University of Abuja, a key speaker at the event, said public debt was a crucial tool for government to finance public spending .
Mohammed said that this was, especially when it is challenging to increase taxes and cut spending and the procedure has resulted in government having enormous unpaid debts overtime.
“Another way to accelerate economic growth is contracting reasonable debt to pay for infrastructure and public projects.
“In order to encourage long-term development ,the government should also ensure that borrowing is done on conditions that are consistent with entrenching debt sustainability and that borrowed funds are wisely invested in the economy’s value added sectors.’’
Mohammed said that Nigeria should accomplish this to resolve its debt problems, improve its credit standing and achieve sustainable growth.
He also called for effective tax administration to tackle revenue challenges and the need to ensure compliance to remittances devoid of all form of evasion in the system.
We’ll Expand Socio-Economic Opportunities For All Rivers People -Fubara ……As Wike Bows Out
Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, has declared his administration’s resolve to expand the existing socio-economic opportunities in order to engender prosperity for all Rivers people.
Fubara made this declaration on Monday at the General Yakubu Gowon Stadium, Elekahia, venue of his swearing-in as the sixth democratically elected governor of Rivers State.
Chief Judge of Rivers State, Justice Simeon Amadi, administered the oath of office on the new governor and his deputy, Prof. Ngozi Odu.
Thereafter, the former governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, handed over the flag of Rivers State and handover notes to his successor.
Fubara, in his inaugural address titled “Together, Let’s Consolidate the New Rivers State”, noted the poor state of the national economy, but promised that his administration would take measures to diversify Rivers economy and insulate it so that it can grow.
He also assured of promoting the climate of ease of doing business in the State to attract direct foreign investment capable of empowering Rivers people.
“The primary responsibility of a new government is to do its best to advance the security and well-being of the State and its citizens.
“Therefore, as we undertake our responsibilities, we promise to stay the course, commit to cooperative governance and expand opportunities for everyone. The wishes of our people for a happy life are our mission in politics.
“We will prioritise the well-being of the State and citizens with a renewed focus on economic growth, people-centred projects and social services”, he said.
He said further that, “We will improve the ease of doing business and sustain a congenial fiscal regime to attract local and foreign direct investments to stimulate greater economic activities, create wealth and improve citizens’ livelihoods.
“We will adopt a re-industrialization policy master plan and partner with the private sector to revive or establish viable industries to create jobs and empower our people.
“We will also support the growth of small businesses and encourage commercial agriculture to achieve food security, industrialization and improved living standards for citizens.”
Fubara added that his administration is already building on the successes of his predecessor and will construct more projects including the Port Harcourt ring road.
According to him, there shall be healthy partnership with private investors to provide integrated inter-modular public transportation system in the State.
“We witnessed unprecedented growth in infrastructure in the last eight years, but there’s still more to do.
“We will follow our leader’s footsteps to invest in capital projects, including roads, bridges, electricity supply to our rural areas, and social housing.
“We will, therefore, partner with the private sector to develop an integrated multimodal public transportation system to advance mass mobility and access to socio-economic opportunities across the state.
“We will also construct the Port Harcourt Ring Road to enhance the mobility of goods and services across the State”.
Fubara said the challenges in the health sector like inadequate manpower and corruption would be addressed to achieve optimal performance.
In the education sector, he promised to provide smart classrooms for students to prepare for global competition, empower the youths with skills to become economically active while being connected to small and medium scale business opportunities.
He said, “We care about our youth. We know they need jobs, opportunities, empowerment and the freedom to build sound, promising futures. We will not abandon our youth to their fate. We will continue prioritizing education at all levels and empower our youth with the relevant skills and opportunities to become economically active, productive and prosperous.
“We believe in the job creation capacity of small and medium enterprises. And so, we shall facilitate targeted access to low-interest funds for youth entrepreneurs to start or improve their businesses, earn decent incomes and generate employment for themselves and others.”
The governor particularly acknowledged the achievements of his predecessor in the health sector saying, “We are also proud of the state’s achievements in the healthcare sector, particularly the construction of new primary healthcare centres, the Mother and Child Hospital, the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital, the Dr. Peter Odili Cancer and Cardiovascular Diseases Diagnostic and Treatment Centre and the contributory Healthcare Insurance Law.
“With what is on the ground, it is evident that the primary challenges with our healthcare system are more with inadequate manpower, corruption, indiscipline and ineffective management”.
Fubara gave a firm assurance by saying: “I assure you that apart from completing all ongoing healthcare infrastructure projects, we will deal with all identified challenges and ensure that the healthcare system functions optimally to deliver affordable and efficient healthcare to citizens.
“We are equally proud of the State’s unprecedented educational advancement, especially in the last four years. Our public schools at all levels, irrespective of location, are some of the lovely and best-resourced in the country.”
According to him, his administration will consolidate on the progress made so far by “introducing smart schools and classrooms across the State to empower our children with world-class learning experiences and make Rivers State a knowledge hub.”
Fubara vowed to be hard on crime and criminality in the State saying, “We will be hard on crime and criminality. We will swiftly and firmly deal with anyone, regardless of status or position, rich or poor, who breaks our laws or dares to violate our environment, peace and security”.
The governor thanked civil servants for their support and promised regular payment of salary, gratuity, more training, promotion for them and housing for low income earners.
Describing the civil servants as members of his constituency, he said, “To our civil servants, I thank all of you for your invaluable contributions to the state’s progress over the years.
“We appreciate your indispensability and promise to meet all our obligations to you, including regular payment of wages, pensions, gratuity, training and promotions. All we ask is your continued patriotism, dedication, and enthusiasm in the execution of your official duties”.
He further promised to govern Rivers people with the fear of God, cognizance of the fact that Rivers is a Christian state.
He also assured the church and spiritual leaders of his administration robust partnership to enhance the moral and spiritual wellbeing of Rivers people.
“Rivers State is a Christian State, and God is our foundation. We shall govern with the fear of God and stay strong to our Christian values of trust, faith, love, care and sacrifice.”
“We shall deepen the inseparable ties between the Church and the State government for the benefit of our people. We assure the Christian Association of Nigeria and other spiritual leaders of our sincere friendship, support and solidarity.
“We will continue to support and work with the Church to defend our faith, advance our values and enhance our people’s moral and spiritual well-being”, he assured.
At the Government House, Port Harcourt, the governor hung the official portraits of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, his own and that of his predecessor, Wike.
… Appoints Nwaeke HoS, Ideozu Acountant General
The Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, has approved two new strategic appointments in the state Civil Service.
In the latest development, the governor has approved the appointment of the most senior civil servant and permanent secretary, Dr. George Nwaeke as Head of Service, Rivers State.
He also approved the appointment of Dr Uche Ideozu as the new Accountant General of Rivers State.
A statement signed by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information and Communications in Rivers State, Ibiwari Clapton-Ogolo, Esq, said that the appointments take immediate effect.
The two fresh appointments bring to six the number of appointments already made by the governor since assuming duties on Monday, May 29.
The first set of appointments was the nomination of four former commissioners under Governor Nyesom Wike as commissioner-designates.
The names are Prof Zaccheaus Adangor, Dr Dakorima George-Kelly, Isaac Kamalu, and Prof Prince Chinedu Mmom.
While Adangor was attorney general and commissioner for justice, George-Kelly was works commissioner, Kamalu was finance commissioner, and Mmom was education commissioner.
Fuel Scarcity: Tinubu Resumes Work, Meet With Emefiele, Kyari
President Bola Tinubu yesterday officially resumed work at the Presidential Villa, Abuja where he met with the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele and the Group Chief Executive Officer of the Nigeria National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL), Mr. Mele Kyari.
This was the first official assignment by the President after his inauguration as the 16th President of the country at the Eagle Square, Abuja, on Monday.
The President arrived at the forecourt of the State House at about 2:30 pm through the quarter guard gate, which is his official entrance gate and was received by the Vice President, Senator Kashim Shettima, the Permanent Secretary, State House, Tijjani Umar, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila and the outgoing Director of Protocol, DOP.
Others who received him were Emefiele, Kyari and a member of the House of Representatives, Hon. James Faleke, among others.
The President went straight to his office with Emefiele, Kyari, Gbajabiamila, Faleke and others.
Although the agenda of the meeting was not made public, it may not be unconnected with the removal of fuel subsidy and the attendant fuel scarcity.
It is expected that the issue of unification of foreign exchange, recent Naira redesign, among others will also be discussed.
Recall that President Tinubu had during his inaugural speech announced that the subsidy has been removed and this immediately made filling stations to shut down operations across the country.
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