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Don seeks legislation against budget padding

Dr Baba Musa, Director-General of the West African Institute for Fianancial and Economic Management (WAIFEM), has called for legislation to ensure the annual publication of tax waivers to prevent budget padding, debt and poverty in Nigeria.

Musa also called for strict adherence to existing laws to tame rising food inflation, Naira volatility, poverty and other factors affecting growth of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product(GDP).

He made the call at a book launch and public lecture organised by the Center for Economic Policy and Research (CEPAR), University of Lagos to mark retirement of Prof. Ndubisi Nwokoma, Director of the Centre.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the book has the title, “Macroeconomic Policy And Public Financial Management in Nigeria: Essays in Honour of Ndubisi Nwokoma”.

The 285 pages book was reviewed by Odunayo Bamodu, Deputy Chief Registrar, ADR Centre, National Industrial Court.

The guest speaker spoke on the theme for the public lecture, “Macroeconomic Policy and Effective Management of Public Finance for Sustainable Development”.

Musa listed factors that contribute to nations economic vulnerability to include: dependence on a single sector, natural disasters and climate change, debt burden, global economic trends, exchange rate vulnerability, among others

He said both monetary and fiscal policies had failed to address poverty, adding that Nigerians were better and richer 10 years ago than now despite growth in GDP in norminal terms.

According to him, monetary policy did not achieve its desired objectives in the last five to seven years.

“Despite the rate hike in recent times, as at April 2024, the headline, core, and food inflation stood at 33.20 per cent, 25.9 per cent, and 40.01 per cent, respectively. Therefore, monetary policy was unable to tame inflation.

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“The economic growth has been fragile. The recent IMF forecast of 2024 and 2025 stood at 3.3 per cent and 3.0 per cent

“Also, the fiscal policy story is not different. The primary balance deficit has been increasing over the years due to rising expenditure without a corresponding increase in revenue.

“Major source of finance budget deficit is domestic borrowing which mostly come from non-banking public. The banking system borrowing most comes from commercial banks,” he said.

The guest speaker added that the outcome of macroeconomic policies in Nigeria had not produced the desired result with rising poverty and infrastructural deficits.

He urged the National Assembly to enact a law to mandate publication of all tax waivers and tax relief including the amount and beneficiaries annually to prevent manipulations increasing Nigeria’s debt burden.

“The National Assembly could establish a numerical debt limit policy based on debt service to revenue or debt to revenue,” he said.

Musa also called for tax policy redesign to capture the rich and large companies, while reeling out recommendations for nationally-accepted long-term development plans.

He warned against austerity measures slowing down growth in African countries which calling for fiscal and monetary policies to break away from austerity.

He also called for establishment of an Independent Bi-Partisan Budget Office run by technocrats to support the work of the National Assembly in scrutinising government budget statements.

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Prof. Ndubisi Nwokoma, Director, CEPAR also spoke on the theme reeling out measures Nigerian must adopt.

The honouree, said though he was retiring, he would still be on the advisory board of the centre.

“I want to appreciate everybody for the honour,” he said.

Nwokoma gave a detailed history of how the centre began as one of the first six to be approved in UNILAG, explaining importance of partnership between the academia and government to drive development.

The event had in attendance Prof. Folasade Ogunsola, Vice Chancellor, University of Lagos; Prof. Akpan Ekpo, Former Vice Chancellor, University of Uyo, Uyo; captains of industries; professional associations; students; among others. (NAN)

Grace Alegba
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