The Federal Government has denied speculations that it was planning to increase taxes, saying while it “is working towards increasing its internally generated revenue through broadening its tax base”, it does not have any intention of increasing taxes.
Responding to a comment by Sen. Ben Bruce at the public hearing of the Joint Session of the National Assembly on the 2017 Budget, the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Sen. Udoma Udo Udoma said “a view has been expressed that we should not increase taxes, that we should broaden tax collection instead, that is precisely what is in the budget.” The minister’s explanation was contained in a statement issued late Monday in Abuja and signed by his Media Adviser, James Akpandem.
According to the statement, Sen. Bruce had given the impression that the Federal Government was about to increase taxes, a development he said will further worsen the economic fortunes of individuals and businesses, but the minister said, “there is no increase in VAT, there is no increase in company’s income tax, there is no increase at all in taxes, but people who are not paying taxes must be made to pay. So the idea is to increase revenue by broadening the tax base, not by increasing taxes”.
Some economic experts who spoke at the session had advocated government spending its way out of recession, partnering the private sector to speed up growth, planning for sustainable development, working with the State governments for integrated development, involving relevant experts and consulting widely in planning, monitoring and evaluation projects, among others. The Minister told the gathering, which also included Civil Society Organizations and private sector operators, that virtually all the views expressed by the speakers have been captured in the 2017 Budget.
“The concerns that have been expressed are reflected in the budget. The need to spend our way out of recession is reflected in the budget. The need to spend in a way that will attract private sector spending is also reflected in the budget. Indeed, the thrust of the budget is to partner with private and development capital to leverage and catalyse resources for growth.” He said Government realized that public resources cannot be enough to drive the development process which is why the 2017 Budget is directed at catalyzing private sector resources and using PPP for a number of projects. “If you look at housing we are putting in N100 billion but we are expecting another N900 billion from the private sector.
If you look at the EPZ, we are putting in N50 billion but we are expecting a huge injection of funds from the private sector. So, this budget is aimed at achieving economic growth, aimed at achieving diversification, aimed at improving our competitiveness, aimed at improving ease of doing business, aimed at creating more jobs and social inclusion, and aimed at improving governance and security.” According to him, the spending is targeted at areas that have quick transformative potentials such as infrastructure and agriculture, manufacturing, solid minerals and services.
The Minister of State, Mrs Zainab Ahmed said government is determined to ensure that Nigerians experience inclusive growth this time around “which is why we have the social intervention programme. “The social intervention programme took off fully in October 2016 and all the four components of the SIP have now been rolled out in their first Phases and we are scaling up on a monthly basis.” She said.