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We won’t increase taxes – FG assures Nigerians

By on January 30, 2016

The Federal Government on Thursday assured Nigerians that it would not increase taxes despite the dwindling crude oil revenue.

The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udo Udoma, disclosed this to State House correspondents at the Presidential Villa, Abuja at the end of a meeting of the National Economic Council presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

Udoma was joined at the press briefing by the Lagos, Anambra and Jigawa state governors, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, Mr. Willie Obiano, and Alhaji Badaru Abdullahi, respectively.

The minister said there was no plan to increase either the Value Added Tax or the Corporate Tax.

He, however, said it was the government’s desire to see an increase in the tax collection rate, which currently stands at about 20 per cent.

The minister said, “We do not intend to increase the VAT rate at the moment, but we want to increase the collection rate from 20 per cent. We will also not raise the Corporate Tax, because we do not want to impose additional burden on Nigerians.

“Government’s position is, however, that those who make money and have not been paying taxes should pay. We expect at least 20 per cent increase in the tax collection rate, which is conservative in terms of our revenue projection.”

He added that the government would work closely with the National Assembly to explore other innovative financing methods for the 2016 budget.

For instance, the minister said the Federal Government would consider private sector funding for some capital projects.

Udoma also cited tolls collection as one of the options being considered for road construction and maintenance.

He added, “With reference to the budget, one thing we are determined not to do is to cut any of those capital projects because we need them to stimulate the economy. We are going to work with the National Assembly to see how we can get savings. One of the areas we are looking at is our cash call elements.

“The Minister of State for Petroleum is looking at how we can cut our cash call elements, which is about N1tn, by innovative financing. So, he is discussing with some oil companies and looking for some innovative financing, which might pick up some of the financing so that we reduce our financial output and contributions by the Federal Government; that will be a major saving, which can be used to plug the gap, particularly with falling oil prices.”

The minister added, “In addition, some of the capital projects the various ministries for infrastructure are looking at how we can get private sector funding for some of them. For instance, the airports can be concessioned, we are looking at public buy-back for some of the roads, looking at tolls. We have to be imaginative.

“But it is important not to touch the capital portion because that is important to revitalise the economy and to get our people back to work, to get growth moving again so that we can get the four per cent growth.”

Obiano said the NEC also received the report of a committee that investigated government agencies collecting revenues in foreign currencies and remitting into the Federation Account in naira.

He listed some of the agencies to include the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, Nigerian Ports Authority and the Federal Inland Revenue Service, among others.

The governor, however, said the council was assured that the introduction of the Treasury Single Account had resolved the problem as all government accounts were now under the Central Bank of Nigeria.

He said, “On the report of some government agencies collecting revenue in foreign currencies but remitting to the Federation Account the naira equivalent, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance reported that apart from the NNPC, NIMASA and Nigerian Ports Authority, other agencies involved in revenue generation are the FIRS, Nigerian Shippers’ Council, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria and the Nigerian Immigration Service.