Finance Bill 2021 Underway, Says Finance Minister

Minister of Finance, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed

Obinna Chima

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, yesterday disclosed that the federal government will in the coming days commence work on the Finance Bill 2021.

Ahmed disclosed this yesterday, while speaking at the Nigeria 2020 Economic Outlook organised by Deloitte in Lagos.

According to her, the president had told members of the executive to ensure that every national budget is accompanied by a Finance Bill.

“We wanted a bill that will be easy to pass by the National Assembly – a bill that would have quick wins; that was why we sent the 2020 Finance Bill, which has been signed into a law.

“So, there are more bills that would come. We are going to do Finance Bill 2021. The president has directed that every national budget must be submitted with a Finance Bill and the essence is to make sure that we make continuous fiscal adjustments to meet our aspiration,” she explained.

However, Zainab, stressed that the executive would ensure that the upcoming Finance Bill does not negatively affect businesses.

She said the federal government would ensure that members of the private sector are carried along in drafting the proposed legislation.

“The strategic revenue objective is being vigorously pursued. We were told that consultations we made the last time were not enough, but this time, we would consult properly,” the minister said.

Commenting on the 2020 budget, the minister reiterated that the deficit component was going to be financed by a combination of domestic as well as foreign borrowing.

According to her, the domestic borrowing would be N774.5 billion, while the external borrowing would be N850 billion.

She reiterated that the country is at a comfortable debt to GDP ratio at 18.99 per cent presently.

“So, there has been a very strong fiscal disciple and we have not allowed to debt to go above the limits set by the Fiscal Responsibility Act.

“The debt-to-service ratio, however, is what has been giving us concern. Because our revenue has not been performing as expected, we have debt service to revenue ratio as at 2018, reported at 51 per cent. “This means that for every N1 we generate, N51 is used for debt service and that causes a great fiscal strain in being able to service government expenditure, including salaries,” she added.

Zainab stressed the need for the country to achieve an inclusive GDP growth so as to create jobs and alleviate poverty.

“We have been able to achieve a number of things. Part of it is that we have been able to return the economy to the path of economic growth and we have been able to diversify the economy.

“We have seen some improvement in security. At least from the Niger Delta region; we have seen improved security which has support crude production.

“We have also seen some improvement in trade. We have also seen some significant improvement in infrastructure as well as social investment. We have made great progress in the social benefit programme,” she said while itemising the achievements of the government.