In the federal government bid to accomplish her Next Level Agenda, a promise made to the electorates and Nigerians alike, diverse stakeholders from different walks of life who converged on Abuja recently have called for the appointment of trustworthy, down-to-earth and persons with requisite merit to man government Revenue Generating Agencies (RGAs).
The above counsel was part of the many views, suggestion and recommendations put forward by experts and stakeholders in Abuja at the first Monthly Policy Dialogue on funding the Federal Government’s next level agenda which was organized by the office of the Senior Special Adviser (SSA) to the President on Policy Development and Analysis, Alhaji Ibrahim Bapetel.
Other recommendations at the conference are; encouraging concession and creation of department to act as an institutional monitor and evaluator of RGAs, Anti Corruption Agencies (ACAs) amongst others to gauge their performances.
The stakeholders who were made up of economic experts, representatives of NLC, MAN, TUC and academicians, counseled that borrowing should be for income generating infrastructure, while money recovered by ACAs should be judiciously used in infrastructural development.
They also called for reduction in high cost of governance and tasked government to make sure that service delivery was consistent with taxes.
While appealing to government against removing fuel subsidy, as its removal will increase the sufferings of Nigerians, the stakeholders called for the repairs or construction of new refineries to contain unnecessary importation of fuel.
Earlier, chairman of the session, Prof. Sadeeue Abubakar, urged participants to proffer solutions and index for funding next level agenda.
Prince Tonye Princewill a chieftain of APC who is also an entrepreneur was a stakeholder at the conference he said, “first of all we have to keep subsidies until we have refineries in good working order. Lebanon and Iraq are examples of hurried revenue generation gone wrong.
“First, we should talk about increased VAT on things like alcohol, cigarettes, fizzy drinks; then we should talk about VAT on luxury items. Road tax is also an option, but we have to show Nigerians what the money will be used for as a way of building confidence and increasing government revenue.”
Ahmad Sajoh, former commissioner for information, Adamawa state and Compere for the event said, “We are bringing sound people from all of these diverse areas, so that we can interrogate the process of funding the next level agenda. There would be no need to bring you all out here if there was no intention to use your input. In the coming months, you will see the impact of your contributions. Of that I have no doubt.”
Marco Hernadez, a lead economist from the World Bank was of the opinion that growth needs to be funded, part of it from the public sector, part of it from the private sector as well. But certainty was key to encouraging investment. Multiple taxation, the absence of a PIB bill, state government vs Federal government collaboration, etc can help
In his speech as he welcomed participants and later, Alhaji Ibrahim Bapetel, said the policy dialogue was part of procedures to obtain ideas and policy suggestions that would assist the APC government led by President Muhammadu Buhari to affect the lives of Nigerians in a positive way.
“So many changes have taken place and so many ideas have now evolved. So, what do we do? We cannot sit on our own; I think we agree that don’t have all the knowledge. We felt it is very necessary we start up a continued conversation with relevant stakeholders; with this we can come up with a new initiative that works. We have heard you loud and clear,” Bapetel said
Revenue generating agencies singled out by the stakeholders for operational reforms include the Federal Inland Revenue Service, the NNPC and the Nigerian Customs Service.
Focal point of the conference includes presentation of papers titled “Funding the Next Level Agenda: Challenges and Prospects” and “Funding Next Level Agenda: Overcoming the Challenges of Corruption and Abuse of Public Office in Nigeria” by Prof. Jide Oladipo and Dr Elvis Oglafa respectively.