Former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, wednesday called on the federal government to live on taxes the way advanced democracies do instead of relying on oil revenue.
Atiku stated this while speaking at the investiture ceremony of the nineth President and Chairman of Council of Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers (CIS), Mr. Oluwaseyi Abe, in Lagos.
“Our governments must live on taxes, the way other democracies do. It will help us live within our means, as it means government can only spend what the people can bear. It will help ensure accountability as tax payers are more likely to ask for accountability when the money comes directly from their pockets,” he said.
Atiku said the economy of the country is broken and that if Nigerians wait for the oil price to rebound or for crude exports to bounce back or oil receipts to receive, they mighy wait for very long and might not be able to fix it.
He said: “I say this because our constant complaints about the oil price, pipeline vandals and lack of funds tend to divert and distract us from the real challenges we are facing. To me, our economy is broken because our economic model doesn’t work, and to fix it we need the resolve to restructure our government finances so that we politicians have a real incentive to create a more conducive business environment.”
According to the former vice-president the the collapse of crude exports is causing immense hardship and we need new drivers of growth and additional sources of export earnings, the irresponsible raiding of the Excess Crude Account and the siphoning of money that should have gone to the Federation Account are awfully bad, the massive corruption at the highest levels that have recently been revealed are important blows to the economy and society.
He, however, declared that the country’s problem is our addition to oil revenues, The belief that we are doomed unless oil flows and oil money fills the Federation Account for our tiers of government to share.
“Another related, and flawed, belief is that the federal government alone is the only force, the know-all, be all, and do all that would direct and bankroll the diversification of our economy. And we have convinced ourselves, again wrongly, that the only reason that the federal government is unable to spend money to do all we expect it to do is that the money has been stolen. We must erase that mindset in order for us to begin to climb out of our current depths,” he said.
He explained that although government can use oil receipts to improve the lives and livelihoods of our people, to fix our horrible roads, crumbling schools, ramshackle hospitals and to pay its numerous, but hardly busy, workers, he stated that oil money is not a requirement for diversifying our economy.
“Rather we need federal government officials who are willing to step back and carefully work out how they can empower the private sector to grow the economy and create jobs. And I don’t mean selecting a few companies deemed worthy of government support. No, we need radical reforms that streamline our bureaucracy and eliminate rules and regulations that stifle innovation. We also need robust management processes that ensure that public money buys us better infrastructure, education outcomes and healthcare,” Abubakar declared.