Nigerians got some goodnews yesterday as the Federal Government expressed its readiness to inject a total of N350 billion in the next few months inorder to restore the dwindling economy.
The decision was reached at the end of a two-day retreat for governors of the 36 of the federation and members of the National Economic Council (NEC) at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
The Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun announced the new development during a press conference alongside Minister of National Planning, Mr Udoma Udo Udoma; Governor Abdul’aziz Yari of Zamfara State/ Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum and Governor Willi Obiano of Anambra State.
According to her, part of the money will help offset the debt owed local contractors, who had laid off their workers due to lack of funds.
The minister added that the state governors were also advised to reduce the number of political appointees and aides as a way of reducing the cost of governance.
We deliberated extensively on the drop in revenue, particularly as to how it affects the state governments and their ability to pay salaries and obligations. The general resolve of the house and consensus was that there was need to bring in more cost efficiency in their operations.
In particular, to look at the setting up of the efficiency unit within the state governments, to rationalise expenditure and, of course, to increase IGR. To that end, there was a need to generate data because data is the basis of any revenue collecting efforts.
The federal and state inland revenue services collaborate to do joint audits to invest in revenue, relevant technology and efforts to improve collection. There is a need to develop incentives for both federal and state revenue generating agencies to ensure that there is an alignment of interest.
There is a focus at state level on property and consumption taxes to help in improving revenue in a fair manner. Tax payer education must be intensified and to expand the tax base and ensure that there is a buy-in in the revenue collection agencies from the populace.
State governors were encouraged, where possible, to rationalize numbers of commissioners and general political appointees and, in addition, cost control measures to be identified and implemented on an on-going basis and there was a sharing of best practices from a number of states that could be applied elsewhere.
From the Federal Ministry of Finance in anticipation of the approval of the budget, we have virtually lined up about N350 billion which we would be pumping into the Nigerian economy in the forth coming months. We explained our rational and the processes that we have put in place, safe guards to ensure that this money actually achieves the desired objective which is to stimulate the economy.
In a similar vein, Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udo Udoma, stated that the council in collaboration with state governments made a resolve to focus on agriculture.
According to the minister, Nigeria has slated December 2018 and 2019 to achieve self-sufficiency in both rice and wheat productions.
He also revealed that state governments had been encouraged to identify at least two crops in their respective states for development just as they were also enjoined to open up some rural and feeder roads in their states.