The federal government has no plans to increase taxes, rather to get tax avoiders to do the needful, Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udo Udoma, said on Monday.
Reacting to a comment by Ben Murray-Bruce, a senator, at the public hearing of the Joint session of the National Assembly on the 2017 Budget, the minister said government was only working to increase its internally generated revenue by broadening its tax base.
“A view has been expressed that we should not increase taxes; that we should broaden our tax collection instead. That is precisely what is in the budget,” Mr. Udoma said.
Mr. Murray-Bruce had insinuated the federal government was about to increase taxes, an action he said would worsen the poor economic fortunes of Nigerians and businesses.
The Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, had recently said that the government would increase tax on luxury items, like champagne, yachts and other luxury items from its current five per cent.
But, Mr. Udoma clarified that there was no plan to increase neither the value added tax, VAT, nor company’s income tax, CIT.
“There is no increase at all in taxes. But people who are not paying taxes must be made to pay. So, the idea is to increase revenue by broadening the tax base, not by increasing taxes,” Mr. Udoma said.
His spokesperson, Akpandem James, told PREMIUM TIMES that did not rule out tax raise on luxury items as announced the finance minister.
Since the government presented the 2017 budget proposal, some experts on the economy have continued to advocate the need for government to spend its way out of the current recession.
They have also called for increased partnership with the private sector to speed up growth, plan for sustainable development, work with the state governments for integrated development, involve relevant experts, while consulting widely in planning, monitoring and evaluation projects, among others.
However, the Minister said at the session, attended by civil society groups and private sector players, that government had taken time to capture virtually all shades of opinions on the 2017 budget.
Public resources, he pointed out, cannot be enough to drive the development process, saying the 2017 Budget was directed at mobilising private sector resources, by using public-private partnership for projects.
“For instance, in housing, although government is putting about N100 billion, another N900 billion is expected from the private sector. For the export processing zone, while government is putting N50 billion, a huge injection of funds from the private sector is also expected.
“So, the 2017 budget is aimed at achieving economic growth, economic diversification, improved competitiveness, an improved ease of doing business, to create more jobs and social inclusion, improved governance and security.”
He said the spending was targeted at quick transformation on infrastructure, agriculture, manufacturing, solid minerals, and services.
On partnership with state governments, the Minister said the federal government consulted with the state governors and Commissioners of Planning in all the states.
“We are determined to a more diversified growth, not depending just on crude oil. We want to stimulate the manufacturing sector, stimulate agriculture, to have a coherent, cohesive plan,” Mr. Udoma said.
The Minister of State, Zainab Ahmed, said the government was determined to ensure Nigerians experienced inclusive growth this time around with the social intervention programme.