By Dipo Olowookere
Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, has disclosed that it was time the country stopped borrowing to fund its budget.
Speaking today at the Presidential Quarterly Business Forum (PQBF) in Abuja, the Minister said instead of incurring additional debts to finance the budget, government will now make efforts to raise its revenue through taxes and others.
“We need to increase our budget size, but we can’t depend on borrowing anymore, so we have to improve revenues and block leakages,” Mrs Adeosun said at the business forum.
The Minister’s position on Tuesday suggests that the Federal Government will no longer press forward with the $2 million loan deals from the World Bank and African Development Bank (AfDB), which have stalled for almost a year.
The loans, especially from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), had been dragging after both bodies insisted on having blueprints of the Nigerian government on how it intends to utilise the funds and repay.
They also insisted on the FG putting in place critical fiscal policies, which have not been met.
Speaking further at the forum today, the Finance Minister said part of the efforts to raise government’s revenue was the introduction of Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) by the Acting President, Mr Yemi Osinbajo, last month, precisely on June 29.
“This is why we’ve introduced VAIDSNG. A window of opportunity for Nigerians, individuals and companies, to regularize tax status,” the Minister said.
“We are reviewing tax waivers/exemptions and also reforming our revenue generating agencies. The Acting President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo has signed an Executive Order to support this,” Mrs Adeosun added.
Last month, the Acting President signed the 2017 budget pegged at N7.44 trillion. This came about a month after it was passed by the parliament.
It was disclosed then that more than 50 percent of the N2.21 trillion deficits in the 2017 budget would be funded through external borrowing.
Part of the 2017 budget, according to the government, is also to be funded with funds recovered from looters.
Minister of Budget and National Planning, Mr Udo Udoma, during the breakdown of the 2017 appropriation bill in Abuja in June 2017, said about N560 billion recovered from looters would be used to finance part of the 2017 budget.
“On recoveries, we are being extremely conservative; what is in the budget is what we know about already. So, if more comes, we will use it.
“Know that recoveries of looted funds are not the most dependable way to finance the budget because of the legal processes that have to be concluded before it can be spent.
“So, the money quoted in the budget is the one we have already recovered and in our pocket to spend as we wish,” Mr Udoma had explained.
Nigeria tripped into recession last year and has been making efforts to get out of it. There have also been promises from the government that the country would quit recession before the end of this year.
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