The Director-General of the Budget Office of the Federation, Ben Akabueze, has said over 30 million Nigerians have refused to pay tax.
Akabueze disclosed this at an interactive session with media executives, civil society, non-governmental organizations as well as other stakeholders on the 2022 budget, over the weekend. While discussing how Nigeria needs to generate more revenue to fund its budget, Akabueze opined that the country spends very little and not too much on budget as many believe.
In his words;
”Government’s target over the medium term is to grow our revenue-to-GDP ration from about 8-9 percent where it is currently to 15 percent by 2025. At that level of revenues, the debt service-to-revenue ration will then cease to be a critical concern. We must, however, continue to rationalise as we cannot afford waste.
In reality, our largest expenditure items are currently personnel cost, debt service and capital expenditure which between them account for 85 percent of the 2022 budget. There’s very little scope for cut in any of these over the medium term.
The most viable solution to our fiscal challenge, therefore, remains to grow our revenues and plug all leakages.
According to the Joint Tax Board, only N41 million Nigerians are in the tax pool. So, that’s over 30 million Nigerians not paying their fair share (of tax). These are anonymous people, within the system, making tonnes of money. So, how do we get these people to pay their fair share?
Governments in Nigeria are not spending too much. They are actually spending too little. Fifteen percent is the public expenditure ratio to the GDP. Cutting public expenditure is not a viable option for us. The only viable solution is to fix our revenue generation.
We must all work together to fix our revenue problem. If we don’t, we will then get into real problem. We all have to galvanise around that objective. If you take Nigeria’s demographics, there’s about 70 million people in the active population and even if you adjust for unemployment rate. It’s about 70 percent.
The budget is an estimate, at this point in time; of revenues and expenditure for next year. It’s only funded at the point when you need it,” he said in response to whether funds not spent, as budgetted in the Service Wide Vote would be returned to the treasury.”