Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udo Udoma has confirmed that the Federal Government does not have any plan of increasing taxes or VAT instead, they are working towards increasing internally generated revenue through the broadening of its tax base.
Udoma said this at the public hearing of the Joint Session of the National Assembly on the 2017 Budget yesterday when he was responding to concerns raised by Senator Ben Murray Bruce that if the Federal government increased taxes, it will further worsen the economic fortunes of individuals and businesses.
Speaking to a gathering, which included Civil Society Organizations and private sector operators, the Minister 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. 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.
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.
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.
When we came in, we came out with a document – the Strategic Implementation Plan for the 2016 Budget of Change. We set out short term plans for one year. We started working on a longer term plan for four years 2017 -2020; and that involved extensive consultation.
We are working closely with the States. We even organized a Retreat in February 2016 with all the States. In all our initiatives we are working with the States. On Agriculture we are working with the States; we even have task forces that involve State governors. So, we are working together with the States.
Indeed, just last week we met twice with captains of industry and members of the private sector to sit down and expose the plan to them and get their input. We are going to Council soon and subsequently the plan will be launched before the end of the month.
People have heard of our plans; they have seen the plan because we have had extensive consultations with our development partners – with the World Bank, with IMF, with UNDP. They have all been exposed to our plan and we have shown them what we are determined to do, that is why people are believing in Nigeria and investing in the Eurobond.
We are determined thereafter to begin to go back to the path of growth, a more diversified growth, not depending just on crude oil. We want to stimulate our manufacturing sector, we want to stimulate agriculture; so we have a coherent, cohesive plan.