We are borrowing to finance infrastructure, and setting aside huge fund for debts financing. It is painful but we have to do what we have do.
Nigeria’s Federal Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun revealed that the economic situation the Buhari’s administration is trying to manage can be best captured by the title of Tai Solarin’s new year’s speech to his students at MayFlower, “May your road be rough.”
Mrs Kemi who was the keynote speaker at the NSE/Bloomberg CEO Roundtable held in Lagos on Friday, June 16, 2017, noted that the economy theme is that which the title of the cited speech portrait. The programme was a theme: Innovating Out of Nigeria’s Recession; Exploring new Paradigm for Nigeria’s Economic Growth.
She further stated that “though it has been rough since the administration begins, things are getting better.”
“There is a vast infrastructural deficit in the country, which we earnestly have to address this….The government released the first around N1.2 trillion for capital expenditure in 2016.”
“It is as a result that we are borrowing to finance infrastructure, and we are setting huge fund aside for debts financing. It is a pain we have to endure for now, as we have to do what we have do."
She also used the occasion to address plan by the Federal government to increase tax net in the country, through employing over 7500 youths whose function is created awareness about the need to pay to tax and its benefits.
“The Federal government have concluded a plan to employ 7500 as community tax advocates. These people will only be deployed to their community after a month of intensive training.”
She also noted the total taxpayers in Nigeria are lowest in Africa and there is a need to increase this ratio.
“We have just 40 million active tax payers, out of an estimated 69.9 million…and of that 40 million, majority are PAYE, those who have their taxes deducted at source.”
“Only 214 people in the entire nation pay taxes of more than 20 million nairas,” she said, adding that “all of which are in Lagos.”
“If we have to grow we must address these issues, and do so aggressively. And to do so we have to step on toes.”
The event also involved a panel discussion which had key industry players across all sector of the economy. Members of the panel noted that economy needs to recover as the recession is hugely affecting their business.
The Chief Executive Officer of Stanbic IBTC Nigeria, Mr Demola Sogunle noted that the economic situation has impacted negatively on the business of banking, hence most commercial banks are now switching to digital platforms to cut the cost of operations. He also noted that most of his bank is considering agriculture sector as a buffer to the effect of the economic downturn.
Advancing the anti-recession narrative about the agricultural sector of Mr Sogunle, Mr Graham Hefer, Managing Director of Okomu Oil Palm Company noted that his company has been able to float above the recession as all its output are usually demanded, but reiterated that there are many opportunities to tap into the sector. He noted there is no need to innovate anything, as Nigeria should replicate models that have been successfully implemented by other African countries.
Other members of the panel include Funke Opeke of MainOne Cable, Ngozi Adebiyi of OutsiderHR Nigeria and Mark Bohlund, Senior Economist, Africa and the Middle East, Bloomberg Intelligence