By Kadiri Abdulrahman
An economist, Mr Tope Fasua, has urged the Federal Government to make short and medium term plans to balance the country’s annual budgets and even achieve budget surplus.
Fasua, the Chief Executive Officer of an Abuja based consultancy firm gave the suggestion in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday in Abuja.
He commended the Federal Government for proposing the budget of N17.1trillion, adding that it was a step to the right direction.
“It is commendable that government is responding to suggestions that our annual budgets should be larger. Considering per capita, and in view of devaluation of the Naira, N17.1trillion is still not enough but it is a step towards the tight direction.
“The government should be thinking of balancing the budget at some point and have surplus budget at some point,” he said.
Fasua urged the Federal Government to take concrete steps to boost its revenue generation so as to reduce budget deficits.
He commended the idea of mandating revenue generating agencies to remit 50 per cent of every revenue generated to the federation account, adding that more of such initiatives would increase government revenue.
“More of such initiatives will gradually reduce deficit budgeting and also reduce borrowings to fund the budget. We can also look at taxation. Nigerians pay the lowest taxes, like VAT relative to most other countries. We seem to be resisting every attempt of government to generate revenue.
“People who own buildings refuse to pay property tax, those who make capital gain on asset disposal refuse to pay capital gain tax. Nigerians pay some of the lowest amounts in alcohol taxes; in cigarette taxes and things like that.
“The recently introduced tax on carbonated drinks is commendable but government should have been a bit more aggressive with it,” he said.
Meanwhile, a financial expert, Mr Okechukwu Unegbu, says the N17.1trillion 2022 budget was realistic considering the country’s population.
Unegbu, a past President of the Chattered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), however, decried the huge deficit in the budget and the dependence on loans to fund it.
“Our debt servicing ratio is high; we are putting almost 70 per cent of our earnings on debt. This is worrisome,” he said.
He urged the government to look inwards by encouraging production and value addition to the various natural resources in the country, reduce importation and encourage consumption of locally made products.(NAN)