Embracing diversification initiatives will increase States, LGs revenues - Udoma
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Budget and National Planning Minister, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma on Monday said commitment in the pursuit of the objectives of the economic diversification initiatives of the Federal Government will help in increasing the revenue generating activities of States and Local Governments.
Senator Udoma who was speaking in Abuja at a two-day national workshop on alternative sources of revenue for sustainable development in States and Local Governments said dependence on allocation from the Federation Account was no longer sustainable because of dwindling revenues from crude oil sales.
The workshop organized by the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) is aimed at discussing alternative sources of revenue generation to foster sustainable growth and development of the country.
The Minister explained that it was for the purpose of shoring up liquidity levels and ensuring the continuous provision of critical services and obligations pending improvement in revenue flows that in 2016 the Federal Government initiated a series of programmes with the States.
Represented at the workshop by his Special Adviser, Mr Bassey Akpanyung, the Minister said he was glad about the relative fiscal stability that the interventions have so far brought to the states; noting however that a lot still needs to be done, which was why the workshop became imperative.
In order to gain further traction on the achievements made so far, the Minister said States and Local Governments must exploit areas of their comparative advantage to promote economic diversification for enhanced revenue generation, job creation and improved livelihood for the teaming populace.
He was convinced that all the states and local governments have diverse but untapped opportunities to generate significant internal revenues through economic diversification. Agriculture, solid minerals, tourism, entertainment, arts and culture, and ICT are all emerging sectors that hold the potentials in the states and local governments, he pointed out.
Beyond ramping up internal revenue generation capacity, the Minister said States and Local Government must equally pay attention to efficiency in its utilization. “The ideals of fiscal sustainability, accountability and transparency demands that we avoid wasteful spending of our scare resources, plug all identified leakages from our system, and channel the funds properly towards delivering the common goods to the people.”
Consequently, he said it is logical to argue that the citizens will be more willing and committed to pay their taxes when public resources are seen to be better managed than otherwise; and if government expects the people to pay their taxes, it must also deliver on expectations.
He drew attention to the fact that the circumstances leading to the current hash economic conditions resulted from the abandonment of the non-oil revenue generating sources and surrendering to the fortunes of crude oil revenue earnings. “Today, sadly, we are paying heavily for the many years of neglect and failure to diversify the country’s revenue sources away from crude oil,” he added.
Pointing out that the path to change usually comes through tough choices and decisions, the Minister said Nigeria has come to that point where making such choices with regard to the country’s economic survival has become imperative. “Indeed, the time has come for us to embrace the various opportunities outside the oil sector in response to the current changing realities, to achieve sustainable growth and development.”
Special Adviser (Media) to the Hon. Minister