FG mulls new tax regimes to fund 2019 budget

Zainab Ahmed

A new set of tax regimes may be introduced next year by the Federal Government to take care of revenue shortfall of N8.3 trillion 2019 budget proposal. Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), two prominent key government revenue agencies may have portion of their Act amended for better enforcement and compliance, Minister of Finance, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed hinted yesterday in Abuja.

The occasion was at the public presentation of Federal Government’s 2019 budget highlight organized by the Ministry of Budget and National Planning. “Our current focus is on revenue. We have to mobilize more domestic revenue so that we can better fund our budget. You can see from the performance that there is gap between what is grant in the budget and what is actually generated. So, we are doing what we can; and very soon, we will be generating new revenue initiatives which will include a new set of taxes and excise duties.

We would be working with FIRS and Customs on new and enhanced measures for enforcement and compliance. “We might have to go to the National Assembly to amend some laws that we identified to have some gaps, some loopholes. We are doing everything we can to make sure our budgets are better funded going forward and it will start from 2019,” said Zainab. She said focus of 2019 budget is to rake in maximum revenue for its implementation. Responding to inquiry on the level of capital implementation in respect of 2018 budget, the minister said N820 billion had been released to Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government.

The minister used the occasion to clear the misgivings in respect of N800 billion fuel subsidy owed the oil marketers, disclosing that N177 billion was released to them last week to be followed by second tranche payment in due course. “Our National Assembly did not announce fuel subsidy of N800 billion for the fuel marketers. It is fuel marketers that are demanding or asking that government should pay them N800 billion. “What National Assembly passed was N326 billion and that approval was conveyed to us. We are currently in the process of issuing promissory notes to the fuel marketers and had, last week, released the first batch of N177 billion to the fuel marketers; and we are doing some reconciliation processes to release the second batch to the fuel marketers,” the Finance Minister said.

The government put her aggregate revenue at the end of the third quarter 2018 at N2.84 trillion, indicating 40 per cent higher than 2017 revenue. This includes: oil revenue of N1.51 trillion (101 per cent higher than 2017); Company Income Tax (CIT) of N500.37 billion (23 per cent higher than 2017); Value Added Tax (VAT) of N100.37 billion (5 per cent higher than 2017); and Customs Collections of N229.62 billion (11 per cent higher than 2017).

“The overall revenue performance is only 53 per cent of the target in the 2018 budget largely because some one-off items such as the N710 billion from Oil Joint Venture Asset restructuring are yet to be actualized and have been rolled over to 2019. “Of the total appropriation of N9.12 trillion, N4.59 trillion had been spent by 30th September, 2018 against the prorated expenditure target of N6.84 trillion.

This represents 67% performance. Debt service and the implementation of nondebt recurrent expenditure, notably payment of workers’ salaries and pensions are on track,” Minister for Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma said retrospectively yesterday. On 2019 budget proposal presented to joint session of National Assembly on Wednesday by the President, Udoma said the new budget proposal was tailored to consolidate on 2017, 2018 set objectives. Some major capital projects, identified by Udoma, captured in 2019 budget, are transportation which has N80.22 billion counterpart for funding railway projects. Railway projects captured for funding in 2019 are: Lagos-Kano (ongoing) Calabar- Lagos (ongoing); Ajaokuta- Itakpe-Aladja (Warri ) (ongoing); Port Harcourt- Maiduguri (new); Kano-Katsina- Jibiya-Maradi in Niger Republic (new); Abuja-Itakpe and Aladja (Warri)-Warri Port and Refinery Including Warri New Harbour (New); Bonny Deep Sea Port & Port Harcourt and other Rail Projects.

Others are, N1.008 billion for construction of terminal building at Enugu Airport; N13 billion for construction of second runway at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja; N27.12 billion for various rehabilitation of railway tracks, including rehabilitation of track from Port Harcourt to Makurdi, maintenance of track (including emergency recovery, bridge and culverts repair), procurement of spare parts (including lubricants) for the locomotives, coaches and wagons. On power: N1.02 billion is set aside as fund for the Mambilla Hydro Power project; N400 million for construction of 215MW LPFO/ Gas Power station Kaduna; N388.5 million for Kashimbilla transmission and N398 million for fast power programme accelerated gas and solar power generation.

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