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Madam Adeosun, fix the tax system, By Kelechi Deca

Money

Madam Adeosun, fix the tax system, By Kelechi Deca

Madam Adeosun, fix the tax system, By Kelechi Deca

Kelechi Deca

NEWISSUES, Abuja

While other countries are working hard to bequeath growth and prosperity to their next generation, the Nigerian state is burning midnight candles to hang huge debts, poverty, and underdevelopment on this generation and generations unborn.

As a Reporter, I have covered major bilateral and multilateral development finance agencies across the world for two decades and I can’t point to any country that grew by borrowing for budget support funds. Especially where corruption is a key issue.

The conditionalities attached to most donor support funds are designed in such a way that it will not be in the interest of the borrower.

This year alone African countries have issued bonds worth in excess of $5.9 billion. The World Bank has also made available credits worth $57 billion to Sub Saharan African countries. Nigeria, Egypt and Kenya are leading the debt spree.

Nigeria took $500m from the World Bank, $450m from AfDB, $20m from Kfw of Germany and $130m from France to fund the Nigeria development bank. It still wants $1b from the World Bank and $1.3 b from Eximbank of China after issuing $1b Eurobond early this year. And hoping to take $30 billion more.

When Zambian firebrand economist Zambisa Moyo wrote her best seller revealing the dark intricacies of foreign aids in her book Dead Aid, she was attacked by combined interests of all those who gain from the impoverishment industry.

Unfortunately, African leaders are so dumb they do not care to read hand writings on the wall. A decade or so ago, Africa exited the debt trap. Today, many African countries, Nigeria inclusive are willingly walking into a newer and more dangerous debt trap.

Even when providence in the form of a Donald Trump who is cutting America’s aid to poor nations is helping them to look inwards. Their “poverty stricken ” minds can only think about borrowing and more borrowing.

For years, Nigeria provided extra budgetary supports for different African countries. Even the Nigerian Trust Fund (NTF) domiciled at the African Development Bank (AfDB) was to help very poor African countries overcome their financial incapacitation.

Those who are in the know, know that some presidents across Africa depended on Nigeria for occasional “pocket money” even till tomorrow. And now this…..Nigeria is broke.

Nigeria does not need to borrow to fund its budget. All that is needed is a more transparent and accountable tax system. Unfortunately, Madam Adeosun does not belong to this school of thought. She does not believe plugging leakage would be of help. Either she does not know the magnitude of the leakage or mere double speaking.

The wastage is such that we should be talking about the deep state in Nigeria. For example, do we need to have about 100 foreign missions abroad, or cut it to 70?

Many have hailed the Lagos State government for its innovative efforts at generating revenues internally. But in real sense, Lagos could make 10 times what it is making today if the system is 50% transparent. Those who know know…

Similarly, the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) could generate over N15 trillion-more than enough for two year’s budget- if the system is just 40% transparent and accountable. And those who know also know….

I read Babatunde Fowler being quoted somewhere that FIRS will start probing people who identifiably live above their means. They can, and they should, by law, they have powers to even peep into the bank details of organisations. But my response was that such will be a good idea if they can start with the staff of FIRS.

Massive corruption has been clearly identified as key disincentive to voluntary tax compliance. People are unlikely to pay tax where they have issues of trust on government’s ability to judiciously utilise public funds. Who willingly pays tax to crooks that will loot the funds?

Nigeria should look inwards not outwards…

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