Zainab Ahmed, the minister of finance, budget and national planning, says the COVID-19 pandemic is projected to have affected 21 million jobs in the country.
The minister was speaking at a webinar organised by the Nigeria Fiscal Policy Roundtable of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG).
She was represented at the webinar by Sarah Alade, special adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on finance and economy.
The webinar titled, ‘Nigeria’s Fiscal Sustainability: Imperatives, Impediments and Options’, brought together experts to proffer solutions on how the country’s fiscal policy can boost economic development.
According to Ahmed, the economic sustainability plan will help mitigate against the effects of the lockdown and ensure stability through the support of MSME’s, accelerating infrastructural development, deregulation of refined petroleum products, incentivizing the use of pension funds and supporting states to access external funds amongst others.
The federal government projects that the economy will contract by four percent in the best-case scenario contract by 4 percent and in the worst-case scenario contract by eight percent.
In his remarks, Paulin Basinga, Nigeria’s director of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said there is a need to grow the country’s revenue base to accelerate human capital development.
“For Nigeria to accelerate human capital development, there is a need to grow Nigeria’s revenue base,” Basinga said.
“The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation continues to partner with state and federal governments to strengthen tax administration, social contract and help in unlocking new revenue sources.”
According to Asue Ighodalo, chairman of the board of NESG, the finance bill and its creation of a tax threshold would reduce the tax burden on the financially disadvantaged, improve the economy and cushion the financial effects of taxes.
Kayode Fayemi, governor of Ekiti state and chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), also said improving internally generated revenue, blocking tax leakages, creating new tax sources and improved efficiency in tax collection will improve socio-economic indices and citizens will see a direct correlation between tax payments, usage, economic and infrastructural development.