Posted by News Express | 2 December 2015 | 2,192 times
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, says the soon-to-be unveiled 2016 Budget by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration will herald the beginning of change in the country.
Mohammed disclosed this at a maiden meeting with the representatives of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Abuja on Tuesday.
He said: “Let me also use this occasion to announce to all Nigerians that better times are just around the corner.
“Nigerians voted for change, and change they will get.
“This Government will not give excuses; the painstaking and methodical approach by the administration, its deep analysis and understanding of the challenges and the recent inauguration of the cabinet will herald a new dawn.
“In the next few days, the administration will start firing from all cylinders, starting the unveiling of the 2016 budget.”
The minister said that Nigerians would witness meaningful progress in all spheres of governance.
He stated that government will lift millions of Nigerians out of poverty, tame unemployment, ensure development of infrastructure, and restore the country’s lost glory.
“Nigerians will witness measurable and impactful progress in all spheres of governance.
“We shall not abandon our social intervention policies such as the One-meal-a-day For School Children and the payment of N5,000 each to vulnerable Nigerians.
“We are committed to lifting millions of Nigerians out of poverty.
“The administration is also progressing steadily and surely in the fight against terrorism and corruption.
“The Economic Team of the government is burning the midnight oil to ensure that unemployment is tamed, that there will be massive infrastructural development and that the country’s lost glory will be
“We are aware that the question on the lips of many Nigerians is that, with the drastic fall in oil revenues, where will the government get the funds to implement its policies?
“The answer is simple: Diversification of the economy, blockage of leakages, as well as exploiting and unwinding our tax base without necessarily raising taxes.
“Talking about taxes, there is no doubt Nigeria can do better than it is doing now.
“A comparative analysis between Nigeria and South Africa will drive the point home.
“In 2013, with a population of 160 million and a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 510 billion dollars, Nigeria collected 30 billion dollars in taxes, whereas South Africa, with a population of 54 million and a GDP of 366 billion dollars, collected 74 billion dollars in taxes.
“In 2014, Nigeria with a population of 170 million and GDP of 535 billion dollars, collected 26 billion dollars in taxes, whereas South Africa, with a GDP of 350 billion dollars and population of 54
million, raked in 70 billion dollars.
“From the figures, it is obvious that if only we can widen our tax base, we do not need to raise taxes to increase our tax revenue.”
Mr Clement Nwankwo, the Executive Director, Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre, who led the CSOs to the meeting with the minister, urged the Federal Government to reduce the cost of governance.
“Nigeria is in dire need of reform of its governance process and a lot needs to be done to reduce the cost of governance.
“And I have listed here the honourable minister, the positions of the situation is that there should be reduction in the cost of running the Presidency, in the implementation of the Orosanye report, the
compulsory declaration of assets of public officials as well as verification of publication, enforcement of the Freedom of Information Act.
“There is also the need to end privatisation of government’s security responsibilities.
“This, I believe, is an ongoing conversation.”
According to him, the Federal Government should, as a matter of national importance, address unemployment and be able to explain to Nigerians the progress being made on the issue of the recovery of looted funds. (NAN)
•Photo shows Alhaji Lai Mohammed.
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