Nigeria Has Achieved Progress In Food Security – Finance Minister

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Our next speaker will be the honorable minister for finance budget and national planning zainab ahmed she was appointed by president buhari and brought the two ministries under her as one mrs ahmed previously served as secretary executive secretary and national coordinator of the nigeria extractive industries transparency initiative an accountant by training

She has extensive experience in the public sector reform and management thank you honorable minister for coming in from the platform i understand thank you thank you very much uh good afternoon everyone thank you for inviting me it’s an honor and a privilege to be here and i’d like to say happy 60th anniversary to all nigerians i’m privileged to be at the eagle

Square to watch the beautiful parade celebrating our 60th independence happy independence anniversary everyone all right our first question will be this given that the given the fact that revenues are not gdp is used to pay dates nigerians are concerned about the debt profile of the federal government very high ways and means of financing by the cbn to government

The debt service cost now you may have a different feeling and opinion or thoughts concerning this concrete this statement or how concerned that you are about the finances of the country and what are the key adjustments that we need to make as a country if oil prices stay at 40 to 45 dollars for the next few years thank you very much permit me to step back a bit

And just say that um when i started working as the missile finance i very very quickly realize that the biggest challenge that we have in the festival space is our very low revenue base so we set up a program that we rolled out that we titled the strategic revenue growth initiative so that initiative was designed to go our revenue the existing revenue schools

Also find um new revenue sources and bring them into form we also set out in under this initiative to increase revenue block leakages and expand their tax base and also started working on reforming our tax system this reform process now formulated into the finance act 2019 which was uh brought into law in january 2020. this specific act was used to amend seven

Different fiscal laws that we have that had gaps in them that were allowing for leakages but not only that we also use the opportunity of the finance bill to reduce taxes for some segments of businesses in a year for example we have a provision now for zero uh company income tax for small businesses that have turnover of less than 25 and then we reduce taxes for

Medium-sized businesses that have a turnover of up to one hundred billion from with me my sister um we call one hundred million price here but we thought it was important to reduce taxes so that these companies retain income in their businesses grow the businesses and employ just and this is something we do before the outbreak of the corvid 19. so it turned out to

Fall to look for futures because that is what countries have to do when we had the crisis we also used the opportunity to increase b18 uh from five percent to seven point five percent before the uh copied 19 crisis would have been growing steadily slow growth but we have been going and the trajectory was all positive now we are witnessing slowdown in both what

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We are doing currently is we are taking we’ve taken a number of measures which include reviewing our plans revising our budget and scaling everything down moving spending from non-essential expenditure to essential expenditure especially uh to enable us cope better with the health crisis that that is in our country but going forward what we are doing is adopting

A counter-sacrifice measure we have have to borrow to stimulate the economy to make sure that there are enough resources for government to be able to continue to run the business we borrow at low interest with responsible borrowing to make sure that government states uh stays afloat and also as our economy recovers our projection is early to 2021 that the group

Will uh will uh rebound we’re targeting that we need to go our gdp to seven percent over four to five years we’re also working to grow our tax base from the current from so at the end of 2009 here our tax tax of gdp rate was eight percent now it has slowed down as low as six percent from our assessment but our trajectory has been our plan has been to go attack

Security to 15 and this will not do over the next four to five years so it’s not a question of whether we can do it because it means actually quickly our revenues but how do we believe that’s what we’re working with now at the federal level and along with the state and also we are also working to make sure that our economy is fully truly diversified away from

Government over don’t get me wrong we have a diversified economy as it is we uh oil contributes nine percent of our dbp so the rest is is not oil but government still has this dependence on all revenues and that is something that we are working to change so to to come back to respond to your um your question we are doing everything that we can to make sure that

Our country is self-sufficient especially in the area of food security and i must say that we have achieved some progress on that with that because if we didn’t have self-sufficiency and principality when there was the loved one and there was no movement of goods in and out of the country would have had very very significant problems because we were able to grow

The second question is the coveted knighting pandemic has shown the efficiency and cost savings that organizations can derive from working remotely so the question is what expenditure savings eg travel costs esta codes should nigerians expect to see in the 2021 budget with government agencies leveraging on digital collaboration and messaging forum platforms

The the kobe 19 is an unfortunate reality to the whole world not just to nigeria but it also presented to us some opportunities which we very quickly took advantage of one of those opportunities was the removal of the world price and which was quickly now followed by the relaxation of the control of electricity target what we are doing is to ensure that the

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Reforms that we have had to put in place because of portland 19 are sustained we have seen practically that you can do a lot virtually that you can do a lot without having to travel from town a to town b we saw a lot of savings during this lockdown period and we also noted that uh despite the fact that the workforce was was uh large the large larger workforce

Was asked to stay at home that the work of government did not stop that everything was still working on very well so about 60 percent of the government workforce are below the uh a certain level that we’re asked to stay i think but nothing actually suffered the worst thing uh went on so it also shows us that we can be a sufficient with virtually and also that we

Can even get more more done we have had to uh do a lot of spending in providing connectivity and also in investing in ict platforms not only for meetings but also for day-to-day operations in my ministry for example i just give you an example we have a course a process where we give tax waivers or import g2 waivers and this is a process that would see a company

Applying sending a lot of bulk to documents turnover time was like three months but with this automation that we have just put in place that is called the idec platform you can actually get this done in in in two to three days so it it it saves us a lot of resources and also it’s also good for the businesses because they cannot work very quickly all right next

Question is we have been hearing of diversification of the economy since the return to democratic rule in 1999 what specific milestones in numerical terms has this government achieved since 2015 and what are the annual sectorial targets you want to be measured on from 2020 to 2022. okay we put together the nigeria economic recovery and group plan ergp in 2016.

In the ergp we had five key execution priorities the first one was agriculture and food security and in that thematic uh um and that key priority we had set to ourselves that would be self-sufficient in rice production by the year 2018 in maize production by the year 2019 and in wheat production by the year 2020 so we have been able to achieve the first two we’re

Still lagging behind in terms of wheat uh with production going forward we have to become self-sufficient in wood production we have also set target to attain 25 megawatts of electricity uh in the country over the next three years uh uh to to increase the power availability within the within the country we’ve set targets to roll out a number of key role rail

Infrastructure that is that are crisscrossing the country so these are projects that have already started we have the lagos ibadan uh completed we also are extending from ibadan to kano there is another rail that will start from portal to my degree there is also one that was just approved that is across the the north east to the northwestern part of the country


And a fourth one connecting the southern regions it is important for us to have this major real funds they will now have scores to major cities of the country the importance of the rail is for to facilitate the movement of maybe food processing from uh from farms to market but also movement of goods all across the country will reduce the cost of doing business in

Nigeria increase the cost of transportation for citizens and it will enhance uh uh business we’re also investing largely in real infrastructure and and enabling businesses to come in to invest alongside government and rail infrastructure we passed an executive court order that is called executive number order number 007 that allows a company to invest in building

A road that is agreed with the government and then using them their funds and then recover their investment over a period of time from tax credit now that that is a unique program that is ongoing so the uh apache rule is built we have 19 rows and we have another 25 that will be coming under the screen the states have found it useful and investors also that

Have uh benefits for building the rules but also want to invest in the roots are signing up to the to to the scheme all right final question i want to ask you you are minister of finance your minister of budget and planning um technically not even technically you are you are the minister of the economy now so what i want to ask is this what are the three things

That keep you awake at night right now three things number one is revenue again i would say number two is revenue and number three is revenue but alongside those three uh leakages leakages that we have been trying to plug and also enhancing the cohesion of our people especially within the revenue ecosystem we found that people were working in silos that we had

Invested in i.t systems that are still sitting in silos and it became difficult trying to collaborate and bringing it all together we now have a process where on a monthly basis we sit down and reconcile our revenues and tell you of the numbers and we are now working on interfacing all the iq systems so that we can see revenue performance on real-time or near

Real-time basis and also we’re building the skills of our people so that they they are able to work more closely together because in working together we actually are able to do more rather than having agencies sitting on their own and you’ll be coming once a month to park like my my my sister and my sister thank you ma’am for coming on the platform i wish you

All the best thank you so much thank you pastor for inviting me thank you

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Nigeria Has Achieved Progress In Food Security – Finance Minister By Channels Television