Nigeria is broke, says Finance Minister

The Federal Government has declared that the 2017 budget is too small and could barely pay for workers’ salaries due to paucity of funds, National Daily has gathered.

Finance Minister, Kemi Adesoun who disclosed this during the quarterly presidential business forum in Abuja on Tuesday, emphasized that plugging all the leakages would still not even make difference.

“There simply isn’t enough money in government to do what government wants to do. I’m sure you will say that is because people are stealing or because you are wasting money, but I’m saying even if you plug all the stealing and all the waste, the budget size is not big enough.”

The minister stated: “Our budget is significantly lower when attached to GDP, we are currently at 6 percent. It is lower than all our peers, we are currently at six percent and that is the lowest in Sub Saharan Africa and one of the lowest in the world.”

According to Adeosun, the Federal Government is not doing enough in the area of revenue collection, especially in terms of tax. “Statistics shows our tax to GDP at 6%, Sub Saharan Africa average 17%, Asia 26%, most of the emerging markets and the advanced countries are at 30-35 percent.”

“And so, if we want to move with the prosperous countries we’ve to do what they do. We’ll not achieve prosperity for Nigeria if we continue on the tax to GDP ratio that is in the peer group of Afghanistan.”

‘I’m sure none of us aspires for Nigeria to become like Afghanistan, we are trying to benchmark ourselves against more developed countries and we must have to address these problems in a more fundamental sense.

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“The problem is that we have been relying on oil and oil gave us a big budget size. It is just one of our resources and as you know, it’s only 10% of our GDP. So, the rest of our economy 90% really has to contribute to our revenue.

Adeosun noted that the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme was aimed at improving revenue collection rate and improving domestic revenue mobilization so that the budget could be sustainably funded.

She said there had been an encouraging response from Nigerians since the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme was launched.

The National Assembly had on May 11 passed the 2017 budget proposal, increasing it from the N7.28 trillion proposed by President Muhammadu Buhari last December to N7.44 trillion.