FG’ll merge agencies, won’t sack workers, says finance minister

Zainab Ahmed4

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, says there is no plan by the Federal Government to lay off workers.

Ahmed said this on NTA’s ‘Good Morning Nigeria’ programme on Thursday which was monitored by The PUNCH

The minister denied claims that the was planning on sacking workers in order to save funds.

She said the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), had said repeatedly that no worker would be sacked. The minister, however, said the would encourage people to leave jobs by giving them incentives.

Ahmed said the would reduce overheads by ensuring that agencies are merged.

She added, “Mr President doesn’t want to disengage staff. That is what he has directed from the beginning of his administration. He also directed that we pay salaries. The Federal Government has never failed in paying salaries and he said we must always pay pensions.

“So, he has been consistent in those directives and we have followed those directives to the letter.”

When asked how the would cut personnel costs, Ahmed said, “Well, we do hope that at the end of the exercise, some agencies will be merged and it will cut down operational costs.

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“And also we will be able to come up with incentive packages to retrain people and redeploy them in some areas where they are useful. For example, we still have a very high need for teachers so we can retrain people and send them to teach but also incentive packages to exit. Again, that is also money. If you want people to exit you have to pay them.

“That is an incentive package so that they can go. That is why it is taking a lot of time because it is not easy to decide on this. Everything centres on resources. We need resources and if we had a lot of money, we would just give very beautiful incentive packages and people would exit and go and start their businesses and we would reduce the size of the personnel cost.”

Barely two years after VAT increase to 7.5 per cent, FG mulls further hike

Meanwhile, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, has said the Federal Government has plans to increase the rate of Value Added Tax paid by Nigerians.

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The move came barely two years after the increased VAT from five per cent to 7.5 per cent.

The minister hinted about the proposed plan on NTA’s ‘Good Morning Nigeria’ programme on Thursday, which was monitored by The PUNCH.

Ahmed, who was speaking on measures being adopted by the to shore up revenue, said that there was a need for the to generate more tax revenue.

She added that at 7.5 per cent, Nigeria has the lowest VAT rate in the African region.

Ahmed said, “7.5 per cent VAT is the lowest in Africa, and it is about 50 per cent of the sub-Saharan African average which is about 15 per cent, so we are still very low.

“Yes we have to increase VAT at sometime going forward, we can’t stay at 7.5 per cent when we want to increase our revenue.

“At some point, I am not saying this year, because we didn’t make provision this year.”

She explained that the didn’t make provisions for the increase in the Finance Act 2021 because of the contentions between the Federal Government and state on VAT.

“So we must stay clear until things are settled,” she added.

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She however said that while there were no plans to increase Company Income Tax, the was considering raising the rates of some levies.

According to the minister, the Federal Government is seeking to grow its revenue to 15 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product to achieve a healthy economy.

“We, in are concerned about the borrowings that has been doing.

“But we will continue to restate that our debt levels are within sustainable limits but the challenge that we have is that of revenue, so we will keep working to increase revenue and cut out any wasteful expenditure because cutting the size of expenditure is currently not a viable option.

“We have to grow our revenue from nine per cent to 15 per cent of the GDP, that is when things will become healthy for us as a country,” she said.

Contact: [email protected]

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