Emma Ujah, Abuja Bureau Chief & Precious John
The federal government recorded a budget deficit of N8. 74 trillion at end of December last year.
The President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, disclosed this at the 40th Anniversary Lecture of the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria (CITN), in Abuja yesterday.
The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, had during the 2022 Budget Breakdown on the 5th of last month, disclosed that the 2021 federal government had recorded a deficit of N7. 052 trillion as at November, last year.
This year’s deficit has been set at N6.39 trillion which is 3. 46 percent of the Gross Domestic Programme (GDP).
The Senate President who spoke through his Special Adviser on Economic Matters, Prof. Nazif Darma, noted that the nation was in a revenue crisis.
He said, “Our economy is a growing one. We have over 200 million citizens.
“We have a birth rate of approximately 3 percent. That means approximately 6 million children are added to the population annually. On a daily basis, 16, 000 new babies are born.
“These demographic indicators are real challenges to providing quality social services and welfare for our citizens.
“Our Country today is in crises. There are no two ways about it.
“And it will interest you to know that, let me give you some key figures that will, perhaps predicate some of the things that I am going to say. I am not here to deliver a paper but I think it is important for us to remind ourselves of those fundamentals.
“In 2019, our total debt service was N2.5 trillion. By the end of 2021, it had risen to N4.2 trillion.
“Our total budget deficit in 2019 was N4. 62 trillion. By December last year, it had risen to N8.74 trillion.
“And the contribution of the major revenue generating agencies into the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the federal government, in 2020 it was over N8 trillion, last year, it rose to N11.9 trillion.
“Today, our country’s integrated National Master Plan developed by the National Planning Commission in 2014, indicated that we have a deficit of about N30 trillion in terms of infrastructure delivery.”
The senator said that as tempting as raising taxes might appear to government, there must be a limit to raising taxes in order not to stifle business activities.
“Even if we increase the rate of taxation, which I will want to urge us to take a look at, it is good to raise taxes but there must be a threshold of taxation that will not stifle the economic activities thereby limiting contributions of the of income to be generated from these businesses,” he advised.
He challenged the CITN and other relevant professional bodies to take a look at the nation’s tax laws and bring to the National Assembly’s, any of them that required amendment in order to shore up the nation’s revenue.
Time to focus more on tax revenue- Osinbajo
In a message, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said that with the gradual global departure from fossil fuel, the nation had to seek revenue options other than oil.
The VP’s message was delivered by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Finance, Dr. Aliyu Ahmed.
He noted that undue reliance on oil revenue had put massive pressure on the nation’s fiscal position and that like other nations, Nigeria had to pay more attention to tax revenue.
Taxation challenges – Naiyeju
In his lecture, former Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue, Dr. James Naiyeju, noted that multiple taxes and endemic corruption have continued to plague the nation’s taxation.
“Challenges are usually stepping stones to success if faced with determination and pragmatic action,” he said, while itemizing the specific areas of concern.