THE Minister of Finance has decried the low level of the nation’s non-oil revenue, saying it could not produce the kind of development desired by the people.
The minister, who blamed this on poor tax collection, said, “Revenue mobilization is critical to the success of Nigeria’s economic reform agenda. We have an unacceptably low level of non-oil revenue, and much of that is driven by a failure to collect tax revenues.”
Speaking with the media after participating in a meeting of Finance Ministers at the ongoing Spring Meetings of the World Bank/IMF in Washington on Thursday, Adeosun said, “With a tax to GDP ratio of only 6 per cent, one of the lowest levels in the world, we have a lot of work to do if we are going to build a sustainable revenue base that will deliver inclusive growth. Our data gathering programme over the last year has now given us the tools we need to be more aggressive at pursuing tax avoiders, both domestically and abroad.
“Just like some of our contemporaries in the G24 have done successfully, we are going to focus on tax in 2017 through an asset and income declaration scheme to address our low tax revenue collection and ensure improved compliance, a broader tax base and more sustainable revenue. This is fundamental to delivering on our reform plans.”
Speaking at the G24, the Minister highlighted the need for strong budget implementation and transparency to create trust and accountability in government.
She said, “While we focus on raising revenue and bringing people into the tax system, we must be equally aggressive in our approach to budget implementation and transparency. Our people must know where their hard earned tax contributions are being spent and the impact that they are having on national development, and the daily lives of citizens. This will be a core focus for us.”
The Minister also met with the ratings agencies Moody’s and Fitch to update them on progress towards economic reform objectives, as well as the World Bank Country team to discuss the status of on-going projects in Nigeria, and the pipeline of projects for 2018.
Speaking about closing the financing gap for water, affordable housing finance food security and nutrition, she said, “While the infrastructure that we build to facilitate power and transportation is vital to our economic growth, we are equally focused on addressing the challenges we face to deliver services to our people. Water quality and nutrition are fundamental to quality of life, but also deliver economic benefits. We must do more to improve living standards for our people and so addressing food security, water and nutrition are central to our reform agenda. This isn’t just about economics, these are the basic responsibilities of government, we need to redouble our efforts and show people that their tax revenue can deliver real change in their daily lives.”