Joseph Inokotong, Abuja
Despite growing anxiety over the Federal Government’s capacity to meet its revenue targets, the Minister of Finance Zainab Ahmed, yesterday reassured Nigerians that everything possible was being done to shore up its revenue base in order to meet the 2019 Budget estimates.
Against this background, the Strategic Revenue Growth Initiatives, a suite of comprehensive cross-cutting interventions aimed at boosting revenue performance has been launched. The minister said
Mrs. Zainab S. Ahmed who spoke at the quarterly World Press Conference held in Abuja, said “the time to act is now – if we do not address the long standing issue of ‘unsatisfactory revenue performance’ in our country, particularly in the non-oil sector, we will never realise our shared goal of ensuring appropriate financing for critical sectors such as health, education, infrastructure, and ultimately to co-creating a Nigeria where no one will be left behind”.
She said action has been taken by prioritising revenue generation, and formally launching in January 2019, the Strategic Revenue Growth Initiatives, a suite of comprehensive cross-cutting interventions aimed at boosting revenue performance.
According to her, significant progress has been made since launching the initiatives as taxpayers in Nigeria have increased by 23 million within three years. The minister said the taxpayer’s base has increased from 12 million in 2015 to 35 million in 2018, adding that revenue performance has continued to show improvements, with revenues amounting to N3.96 trillion as at the end of Q4 2018, representing 31 per cent increase over the performance in 2017. However, this performance of N3.96 trillion still falls short of this administration’s budgeted target as the aggregate revenue performance is still only 55 per cent of the projected revenue of N7.16 trillion.
“In 2018 our budgeted revenue was N7.2 trillion this is against the realised figure of N3.96 trillion, signifying a negative variance of 45per cent . Despite this shortfall we have been able to fully pay salaries and service 100% of our debt. We have also released seven months overhead for 2018, two months for 2019, and N2.079 billion capital expenditure as at 14th May 2019.