Nigeria Overreliance On Borrowing For Public Expenditure Will End Under Me – Tinubu Boast

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has pledged his readiness to break the vicious cycle of overreliance on borrowing for public spending, and the resulting burden of debt servicing it places on the management of Nigeria limited government revenues. Speaking Tuesday at the State House in Abuja, while inaugurating the Presidential Committee on Fiscal Policy and Tax Reforms, the President mandated the committee to improve the country’s revenue profile and business environment as the Federal Government moves to achieve an 18% Tax-to-Gross Domestic Product ratio within three years by 2026.

President Tinubu directed the Committee headed by renowned tax expert, Mr Taiwo Oyedele, to achieve its one-year mandate, which is divided into three main areas: fiscal governance, tax reforms, and growth facilitation. He also directed all government ministries and departments to cooperate fully with the committee towards achieving their mandate.

The President told the Committee members the significance of their assignment, as his administration carries the burden of expectations from citizens who want their government to make their lives better. According to him; ”We cannot blame the people for expecting too much from us. To whom much is given, much is expected.

”It is even more so when we campaigned on a promise of a better country anchored on our Renewed Hope Agenda. I have committed myself to use every minute I spend in this office to work to improve the quality of life of our people”. Acknowledging Nigeria’s current international standing in the tax sector, President Tinubu said the nation is still facing challenges in areas such as ease of tax payment and its Tax-to-GDP ratio, which lags behind even Africa’s Continental average.

“Our aim is to transform the tax system to support sustainable development while achieving a minimum of 18% tax-to-GDP ratio within the next three years. Without revenue, government cannot provide adequate social services to the people it is entrusted to serve.

The Committee, in the first instance, is expected to deliver a schedule of quick reforms that can be implemented within thirty days. Critical reform measures should be recommended within six months, and full implementation will take place within one calendar year,” the President directed.

Earlier, the Special Adviser to the President on Revenue, Mr Zacchaeus Adedeji, while recalling the President’s sterling track record on revenue transformation, described the committee members, drawn from the public and private sectors, as accomplished individuals from various sectors.

He said; ”Mr. President, you have the pedigree when it comes to revenue transformation. You demonstrated this when you were the Governor of Lagos State over 20 years ago”.

Also speaking, Chairman of the Committee, Mr. Oyedele, noted that Nigeria’s revenue generation is below the African standard, though the nation’s collection costs are among the highest. He, however, pledged the total commitment of members of the Committee to give their best in the interest of the nation.

According to him; “Many of our existing laws are out-dated, hence they require comprehensive updates to achieve full harmonization to address the multiplicity of taxes, and to remove the burden on the poor and vulnerable while addressing the concerns of all investors, big and small. Our tax administration has improved but remains relatively basic, with instances of unregulated collections by untrained officers, particularly at the Local Government level, being widespread.

“Our revenue generation falls below even African standards, yet our collection costs are among the highest. This is due not only to multiple taxes but also numerous collection agencies and fragmented revenue reporting procedures.

“Public willingness to pay taxes is strained because of a lack of trust in government, both among individuals and businesses, irrespective of size. The burden of tax falls heavily on those who comply, while those who evade often get away with little or no consequences. We need to change this.

“The process of resolving tax disputes is protracted and costly, with inadequate mechanisms for many small businesses and vulnerable individuals to seek fair tax resolution, as professional services are often beyond their means” Mr. Oyedele further stated.

Austine Ikeru
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