By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor
Civil Society Legislative and Advocacy Centre, CISLAC, has expressed concern over the Federal Government’s plans to borrow $5 billion to finance the budget and called on the supervisory committees in the National Assembly to vigorously interrogate the move.
CISLAC in a statement, yesterday, further expressed concern over the administration’s debt profile was unrealistic in the light of a budget deficit that was already 31 per cent of annual budget a debt to GDP ratio of 16.
The CISLAC statement issued by its Executive Director, Auwal Ibrahim read: “We are worried that the failure of government to deliver on its promise to Nigerians on infrastructure development, after over two years in office, due to the financial challenges because of dwindling revenues from oil, is driving her into panic mode and making her resort to desperate measures, including falling back on discredited and obsolete approach of handing out tax incentives to show results, probably for electioneering campaign prelude to 2019.
“This must, however, not be done at the expense of long term national interest and development.
“CISLAC finds it disturbing that a country that is posting a debt to GDP ratio of 16 per cent and a budget deficit of about 31 per cent of her annual budget in 2017, planning to borrow another $5 billion (about N1.9 trillion) to fund the 2017 budget, while already spending about 36 per cent of scarce revenues to service debts and is in danger of losing international funding to provide social services, still finds it convenient to concede revenues through the use of incentives. That this is done in exchange for road construction is quite embarrassing and an indictment of the government.”
“We are aware that this tendency for hasty and discretionary award of tax incentives is what makes it prone to abuse and corruption as has been with previous arrangements such as the Pioneer Status Incentives which this administration have had to cancel and review. For instance, have other cement companies being offered the opportunity to construct roads in exchange for tax incentives? How many of such is government willing to grant and what will be the cost? Is such concession exclusive to some entities? How many micro, small and medium enterprises businesses that have funded road rehabilitation, sunken boreholes and provided other public benefits to which the CITA (Exemption of Profits Order 2012) also applies have benefited from the order?