By JOSES SEDE/EDITH IMOISILI
ABUJA – Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, yesterday, indicated Federal Government resolve to diversify the economy in 2015, by shifting from the oil sector to aggressive revenue generation through taxes.
This is even as Senate President David Mark assured that the Senate would dedicate two days to consideration and approval of the Budget, to enable President Jonathan Goodluck begin implementation in Ernest.
In a press chat with journalists shortly after she had laid the 2015 Budget estimates at the table of the Senate and the House of Representatives, the finance minister explained that the 2015 Budget seeks to protect the average Nigerian because it was packaged to focus on the diversification of the economy.
She expressed optimism that the strategy would work because food prices have not risen in spite of the depreciation of the naira.
“If you check all around the markets, you will observe that the average Nigerian is still enjoying stable food prices. In some places like Enugu, the prices of garri has even fallen.
Inflation rate as estimated by the National Bureau of Statistics has fallen from 8.1 to 7.9 percent. This budget really focuses on moving us to diversify the economy and raise non oil revenue.
We have made up for the fall of $13 per barrel, by raising non oil revenue through various types of taxes and policies. The surcharge on luxury goods is there, plus additional tax efforts to close leakages in revenue”, she told the journalists.
The minister further explained that the benchmark price for oil was fixed at $65 while the production figure was pegged at 2.27m barrel per day.
“We have estimated a GDP growth based on the circumstances of the country, which will be about 5.5 percent this is down from the 6.35 percent we had earlier from the National Bureau of Statistics which is still one of the best growth rate in the World.” She added.
Meanwhile, the Senate President, David Mark, has pledged that the upper chamber would consider the appropriation bill within two days on resumption but urged the various committees to work on the document even while on vacation.
Also, Senators Phillip Aduda and Joshua Dariye, have assured members of the public that the various committees would expedite action on the passage of the 2015 budget despite the political activities in their various constituencies.
Senate Leader, Victor Ndoma – Egba, while moving the motion for the adjournment till January 13, 2015 explained that the idea was to enable senators participate effectively in the political activities ahead of next year general election.
The minister of finance and the coordinating minister, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iwela yesterday explained that this year budget is based on a few key indicators on $65 per barrel benchmark and we are going to stick to it for now despite the declining prices because we feel the average price next year around $65-70.
The minister while speaking with pressmen after she laid the 2015 Appropriation Bill before members of the House of Representatives on behalf of President Goodluck Jonathan explained that federal government has revised the parametres of the country down from 6.35 to 5.5 percent next year.
“We have a budget expenditure of about N 4.3 trillion. Revenues of N3.6 trillion. We have tried to make up for the drop from the $78 per barrel to $65 by raising non-oil revenues”, she added.
The minister explained that this budget points to the fact that this country is a non oil country and I think we want Nigerians to begin to think of the country in that way.
“We have worked very hard with the guidance of Mr President to move on non-oil revenue. We have closed many loopholes and leakages. We have tried to broaden the tax base. We have sped the audit; we looked for everywhere. We have closed some exemptions, all of this will bring additional revenues into the coffers”, she said.
We have also worked on the expenditures side. In the short term, we are going to look at the administrative expenditures, equipments we have not been able to buy next year, travel and the training will only be inside the country. Just on exceptional basis, if somebody is paying for you, will you be able to go out or if it is typical government directive to go out.