* As IMF Technical Team Arrives Nigeria Next Week*
* Describes Nigeria’s Budget as ” Ambitious”
Tony Ailemen , Abuja
Ahead of the 2016 budget of “change” President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday vowed to ensure that all the MDAs account for all revenues collected by them as part of measures to beef up government revenue.
This is just as the International Monetary Fund, IMF, yesterday said it is dispatching its high level technical team to Nigeria, next to critically assess the proposals contained in the 2016 Nigerian budget.
The President has also directed all the Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government MDAs, to cut down on all over head expenses as part of cost saving measures
The President disclosed these when he received the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Ms Christine Lagarde at the Presidential Villa,yesterday.
A statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, noted that President Buhari also promised that his administration will henceforth enforce greater discipline, probity and accountability in all revenue generating agencies of the Federal Government.
The President had also declared that his administration will look inwards, enforce regulations to stop financial leakages and adopt global best practices in generating more revenue to mitigate the effect of dwindling oil prices on the Nigerian economy.
“We have just come out of budget discussions after many weeks of taking into consideration the many needs of the country, and the down turn of the economy with falling oil prices and the negative economic forecasts.
“We are working very hard and with the budget as our way forward, we will do our best to ensure that our country survives the current economic downturn.
“We have also told all heads of Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government that on our watch, they will fully account for all funds that get into their coffers,” President Buhari told Ms Lagarde.
The President said that the Federal Government was reviewing its operational costs and had directed all the Ministries, Departments and Agencies to cut down on their overhead costs.
President Buhari said the Federal Government will welcome the technical support and expertise of the IMF for its plans to diversify the Nigerian economy and further unleash its growth potentials.
The IMF Chief Executive Officer, Ms Lagarde in her remarks said that the IMF will be willing to assist the Federal Government in plugging revenue leakages, tracing stolen funds and restructuring its tax system.
She said that Nigeria had all the potentials to overcome the current economic challenge of falling commodity prices without resorting to the IMF for financial support.
Also speaking later with State House Correspondents, Ms Lagarde disclosed that the IMF technical team which is expected in Nigeria next week will offer support by reviewing and giving further advice on the 2016
“It is not for me here and now to actually approve or comment on the budget because we have procedures in the IMF under which a team of Economists is going
to come next week actually to review the 2016 Budget as is contained in Article 4 to really asses whether financing is in place, whether the debt is sustainable, whether the borrowing cost are sensible and what strategies are put in place in order to address challenges going forward.”
“We have excellent discussions with President Buhari and we discussed the
challenges ahead stemming from oil price reduction. The necessity to
apply fiscal discipline and the need to also respond to the population
needs while addressing the Medium Term specificities of improving the
competitiveness of Nigeria and yet also focusing on the short term
fiscal situation which requires that revenue sources be identified in
order to compensate the shortfall resulting from oil price decline.”
She noted that although Oil is not the major contributor to the Nigerian GDP, as it is only about 40 per cent, she however agreed that it is a big source of revenue for the government.
“We discussed with the President, Vice President and the Minister of Finance and Minister of Budget how more efficiency, more transparency, better accountability, the enlarging the base of revenue could actually contribute to sound budget going forward”
“But what I certainly mentioned to Mr. President was that his fight and his determination to fight corruption and his determination to bring about transparency and accountability at all levels of the economy are very important agenda item and very ambitious goal that needed to be deliberated upon which he, himself is definitely committed to as he indicated this morning and as he inspires his team members”
“With that, I am going to have more discussions with the finance minister, with Governor of Central Bank. We will be discussing issue of fiscal discipline, financing monetary policies and the degree of flexibility, all that with the fact that Nigeria with a vibrant large economy still has to deal with poor people, a lot of inequality and those two components should certainly be the drivers of reforms”
” Whether it is looking at subsidies and how they are structured and how they can be phased out, whether it is monetary policy and the flexibility needed and knowing what effect it has on the poor, all of those are ambitions that we could quickly recognize and support”
” Our technical discussions will continue and to those of you who wonder
why the IMF Director is visiting Nigeria.” adding that ” It is precisely to have
good discussion about these new objectives, these reforms agendas that
have been identified and supported by the President and also to
appreciate the impact that it will have on neighbouring countries”
” This is because when a country large as Nigeria, anything that it decides, any
hardship that it faces will have consequences around it and that is
what our research and analytical work is demonstrating. Nigeria is one
of those that have impact not just on itself and its people but around
it and it’s neighbours.”