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More Taxes, Blocking Revenue Leakages Will Reduce Nigeria’s Debt Burden, Says Finance Minister, Ahmed

The minister of finance, budget and national planning, Zainab Ahmed has said the best measures to reduce the nation’s high debt burden are collection of more taxes, and effective blocking of revenue leakages.

Ahmed said this at a workshop on tax expenditure organised by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission in Abuja yesterday.

The workshop was aimed at examining directives on harmonisation of tax expenditure management practices and the monitoring and evaluation of tax transition in ECOWAS member states.

Represented at the event by Fatima Hayatu, director, technical services in the finance ministry, Ahmed said the issue of tax expenditure was of great concern for the government.

TheCable reports that in federal government’s fiscal performance report, the cost of servicing debt surpassed revenue by N310 billion in the first four months of 2022.

The minister, however, maintained that the debt burden is not beyond what the government can handle.

“If we have more taxes and redirect the taxes to the right fiscal sectors of our economy, we will reduce our debt burden,” Ahmed said.

“It is not as if the debt is beyond what the government can handle. If you look at the ratio of the debt to the gross domestic product (GDP), I think the government is doing well.

“The debt is not something that cannot be surmounted. The programme today is to block leakages where the taxes are being diverted. So, if we block leakages, and if it is transparent, Nigeria will borrow less and we will have more money to finance other sectors.”

Ahmed

Ahmed said reforms in tax expenditure management were gaining traction in Nigeria, a development that had resulted in the continuous development of in-house capabilities and internal restructuring in agencies for greater efficiency.

She also disclosed that the government would commence the “rationalisation of tax exemptions by phasing out antiquated pioneers and other tax incentives” for matured industries.

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