Nigeria vows to capture inventory of abandoned projects in 2018 budget

Roadside vendors sell drinks to passengers onboard Lagos-Kano route train at Minna Station in Niger State on February 8, 2013. The rejuvenated Nigerian Railway Corporation has resumed passenger and haulage services on the Lagos-Kano route following the refurbishing of engines and coaches over 20 years the corporation had gone bankrupt. Earlier last year, the corporation had acquired 20 pressurised tank wagons in preparation for the haulage of petroleum products from Lagos to northern parts of the country. The 20 wagons have the capacity to lift 900,000 litres of petroleum products, the equivalent of 27 road tankers. AFP PHOTO/PIUS UTOMI EKPEI (Photo credit should read PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images)
 says only 13m citizens pay taxes, 40 pay over N10m annually
Federal Government has disclosed that only 13 million Nigerians pay taxes. Out of this number, only 40 Nigerians pay over N10 million per annum as tax, in an estimated population of 180 million.
This comes as the government has promised to capture abandoned projects in the country from the 2018 budget.
Ben Akabueze, director-general, Budget Office of the Federation, stated this on Tuesday in Abuja.
“Till date, there are only 13 million tax payers in the country. And we talk about 180 million people. A recent survey that was done to find out how many Nigerians pay more than N10 million and above per annum in taxes, only 40 individuals do that,” Akabueze told federal lawmakers at the second day of the public hearing on the 2017 budget.
The event, the first of its kind in the history of the country, is organised by the Joint Senate and House of Representatives Committees on Appropriations.
He harped on the need to spend more on infrastructure rather than recurrent expenditure, as being suggested in some quarters.
Citing Ethiopia that spends 60 percent of its annual budget on capital expenditure, he submitted that this would improve the nation’s economic growth.
The N7.298 trillion Nigerian budget has a capital component of N2.1 trillion, representing 28 percent.
According to the DG Budget Office, “If we focus the budget more on people, by which you mean spend more on recurrent expenditure with no investment in infrastructure, we will remain a poor country with very little scope for economic growth.
“So, there is no question that we need to spend more on infrastructure. And therefore, the policy to devote 30percent of our national budget to infrastructure spending is a sound one.
“In Ethiopia, by law, they have 60percent of their budget goes to capital expenditure, 40percent on recurrent. And whatever it is as salary, they divide it whether it is enough or not. But they must dedicate 60percent on infrastructure. It’s not a surprise that Ethiopian economy has been growing at an average of 11 percent per annum for the last 10 years.”
Responding to the concerns raised by the CEO, BudgIT, Oluseun Onigbinde, in his presentation about the 12,000 abandoned projects across the country, Akabueze said government had started taking inventory of all abandoned projects in the country, with a view to capturing them in next year’s budget.
“We are undertaking a comprehensive inventory and evaluation of those (abandoned projects) so that from the 2018 budget, we will see how we can include them. And some of them, we will have to just scrap them and move on because they no longer fit. But there will be a comprehensive submission on this. The EU is supporting us on this”, he noted.
The report of the Abandoned Projects Audit Commission set up by former President Goodluck Jonathan in 2011, put the number of abandoned Federal Government projects in the past 40 years at an estimated 11,886. The cost of the projects was valued at over N12 trillion.
The government, Akabueze added, will implement tighter controls in self-sustaining federal institutions.
“The presidential initiative on continuous audit recently did sample audit on a number of institutions, including those in the health sector. One of the major tertiary institutions in the country that is only reporting N1billion monthly revenues, that is N12billion per annum, the audit showed that their revenues are more like N30billion per annum, which means that institution can pretty much be self-sustaining.
“So, in 2017 we will be implementing tighter controls over revenues in those institutions so that those of them who don’t need to be on the federal budget can be taken up and it will free up resources to support the ones who need to be”.
He stated that the sum of N565billion recovered from loots and fines would be channeled into this year’s budget, adding that the N80billion fine paid by mobile network MTN is part of the funds.
Onigbinde earlier called for a ‘national dash board’ for tracking on projects to ensure speedy completion.

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