Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, has said that revenue mobilisation is critical to the economic reform agenda of the Federal Government.
Adeosun noted that government revenue was too small compared to the size of the economy, government and the needs the people.
The Finance minister said this while delivering the keynote address at the NSE-Bloomberg CEO Round Table in Lagos at the weekend.
She said: “We see increasing revenue as the long-term strategic solution for sustainable and inclusive growth. Revenue is required in the short-term for investments and in the medium to long-term for our debt service.
“Our acceptance that our ambitions cannot be financed by oil revenue is an equal acceptance that there is a finite limit to how much can, and should be financed by debt. If we don’t want to borrow, we need more revenue.
“The problem is not that our debt service is too high but our revenue is too low and the manner in which the imbalance between our debt service and revenue will be corrected, apart from rebalancing our borrowings in favour of longer tenure loans and external sources, is by finally and frontally facing the issue of revenue.”
She emphasised the limitation of relying on oil, adding, “We believe that Nigeria is an ‘oil-plus’ economy and we should model ourselves after countries that have similar profiles like Egypt with a population of 91 million and 490,000 barrels of oil per day (185 people to a barrel of oil) and has a highly diversified revenue base”.
She further explained that as a nation, Nigeria cannot model herslf after Saudi Arabia, with their 30 million population and 10 million barrels of oil per day (3 people to a barrel of oil), adding, in Nigeria, we have a population of close to 180 million people and about 2 million barrels of oil per day (90 people to a barrel of oil). We must therefore, diversify our revenue base”.
Adeosun stated that revenue mobilisation is therefore critical to Nigeira’s success.
“Revenue mobilisation is critical to the success of Nigeria’s economic reform agenda and we are working on strategies to drive non-oil revenue growth, she said”. To do this, we must amend Nigeria’s low level of tax compliance. A tax to GDP ratio of just 6%, is just too low and we are working to amend this,” Adeosun said.
The Daily Times recalls that on Thursday, the Ministry of Finance announced plans to recruit and train 7,500 Community Tax Liaison Officers under the N-Power scheme.
“These young people will be subjected to a rigorous and intensive education on the tax system, sales, communication skills and civic education before being deployed to their communities to provide tax education and enrol new tax payers”, she said, adding, “We have just 14 million tax payers out of an estimated 69.9 Million people who are economically active.
“Nigeria is doing more with less and we will continue to do so. Growth is returning, investor confidence is reawakening and that confidence is based on an economic blueprint, which if followed doggedly, would take us from the rough road, onto a path of sustainable and inclusive growth,” she added.
Other speakers at the Round Table included Dr. Doyin Salami of Lagos Business School, Mr. Andrew Alli, the President/Chief Executive Officer, Africa Finance Corporation and Mr. Oscar Onyema, the Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Stock Exchange, among others.