‘Economic diversification will raise revenues states, councils’
Budget and National Planning Minister, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, on Monday, said commitment to the Federal Government’s economic diversification initiatives will increase the revenue generating activities of states and local governments.
Senator Udoma, who spoke in Abuja at a two-day national workshop on alternative sources of revenue for sustainable development in states and the council areas, said dependence on allocation from the Federation Account is no longer sustainable because of dwindling revenues from crude oil sales.
The workshop, organised by the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), was aimed at discussing alternative sources of revenue generation to foster sustainable growth and development of the country.
Udoma explained that it was for the purpose of shoring up liquidity levels, and ensuring the continuous provision of critical services and obligations pending improvement in revenue flows that the Federal Government in 2016 initiated a series of programmes with the states.
Represented at the workshop by his Special Adviser, Bassey Akpanyung, the Minister said he was glad about the relative fiscal stability that the interventions had so far brought to the states; noting however that a lot still needs to be done, which made the workshop imperative.
In order to gain further traction on the achievements made so far, the he urged states and councils to exploit areas of their comparative advantage, to promote economic diversification for enhanced revenue generation, job creation and improved livelihood for the teaming populace.
He argued that these two levels of government have diverse but untapped opportunities to generate significant internal revenues through economic diversification. Agriculture, solid minerals, tourism, entertainment, arts and culture, and ICT are all emerging sectors that hold immense potential for them, he pointed out.
Beyond ramping up internal revenue generation capacity, Udoma also advised the states and councils to equally pay attention to efficient resource utilisation. “The ideals of fiscal sustainability, accountability, and transparency demand that we avoid wasteful spending of our scare resources, plug all identified leakages from our system, and channel the funds properly towards delivering the common goods to the people.”
Consequently, he argued that the citizens will be more willing and committed to paying their taxes when public resources are seen to be better managed than otherwise; and if government expected the people to pay their taxes, it must also deliver on expectations.
He drew attention to the fact that the circumstances leading to the current hash economic conditions resulted from the abandonment of the non-oil revenue generating sources and surrendering to the fortunes of crude oil revenue earnings. “Today, sadly, we are paying heavily for the many years of neglect, and failure to diversify the country’s revenue sources away from crude oil,” he added.
Noting that change usually came through tough choices and decisions, Udoma said Nigeria making such choices with regard to the country’s economic survival had become imperative.