SOME financial experts at the weekend said that the 2015 budget would only be achieved through strategic fiscal and monetary policies aimed at addressing national tax leakages.
They said in their separate interview in Lagos that the sustained slide in the price of crude oil in the international market calls for tougher and inclusive tax regime.
Mr. Bayo Olugbemi, President, Institute of Capital Market Registrars (ICMR), said that government should introduce measures to ensure effective tax management in the country.
Olugbemi said that Nigerians and the three tiers of government should expect more belts tightening in 2015, following developments in the international crude oil market.
He said that governments at all levels should review their spending pattern and explore other sources of revenue to reduce pressure on the nation’s Excess Crude Oil Account.
According to him, the 65 dollars per barrel benchmark for the 2015 budget is not realistic and government should look for other sources of revenue to cushion the effect of the fall in oil prices.
He also called for the introduction of more fiscal measures, to hedge against a free fall in oil price.
Olugbemi, however, said that the development would not affect the Value Added Tax palliatives granted by the government on all capital market transactions.
He said that the major aim of the incentive was to encourage more participation in the capital market.
Mazi Okechukwu Unegbu, former President, Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), said that the budget was not realistic because of the nation’s dependent on oil.
Unegbu said that government failed to develop alternative sources of revenue, in spite of warnings on dangers of over reliance on oil.
He said, “Every oil dependent country that failed to develop other sectors is facing an economic crisis.”
“The 2015 budget is not realistic and achievable because the 65 dollar benchmark is above the current oil price in the international market,” Unegbu said.
He said that managers of the economy should be careful in making economic policies and pronouncements, noting that the recent devaluation of the Naira was not in the best interest of the country.
Mr Harrison Owoh, the Managing Director, HJ Trust & Investment Ltd., said that government at all levels should reduce their expenditure profile, to reflect present realities in the economy.
Owoh said that the major problem affecting the nation’s growth and development was largely due to excess government spending on political appointees.
He said that the nation needed not to panic over a drop in oil prices, if other sectors of the economy were developed.
Owoh said that the nation’s excess crude oil accounts should be invested in infrastructure development, for the masses to feel the impact.
Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Finance Minister and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, had on December 17, presented the 2015 budget estimates of N4.36 trillion to the National Assembly.
Okonjo-Iweala said that the 2015 budget was cut by N357 billion over the 2014 version.
She said that the budget was aimed at diversifying the economy in 2015, with more focus on tax revenue.