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VOICE OF REASON: The glory of a king

Published by Tribune on Sun, 15 Mar 2015

Continued from last weekIN the third place, experience has shown that our policy of providing one hospital for every division has proved inequitable to large Divisions, like Oshun, Ibadan, Oyo and Ekiti to mention only four. The inequity arises from the fact that whilst a Division like Aboh with a population of 130,000 gets one hospital, Oshun Division with a population of 853,000 also gets only one. The government now realises that the best and the most equitable yardstick should be area and population. It goes without saying that it would cost a lot more money to do justice and equity in this matter to those divisions to which they are due.In the fourth place, as I shall show in another connection during this meeting, it will be necessary for the Regional Government to subsidise Urban Water Supply Schemes if the people of whom they are provided are to enjoy this amenity without having to pay exorbitant water rates.With regard to finding money for our capital expenditure over the next five years, I venture to express the hope that there is no cause for alarm. With careful management (and this is assured as long as the Action Group remains in power in this Region) and provided a serious disaster does not befall our requirements in this sphere.It is in regard to our recurrent expenditure vis-a-vis the induced attitude of hostility on the part of our people towards measures designed to raise additional revenue that the future calls for caution and sober reflection.Our recurrent expenditure on education will jump by leaps and bounds from 1956-57 onwards. Expenditure on Health will follow closely on the heels of the latter. I have spoken of heavy capital expenditure on roads, but capital expenditure of this nature always carries with it an aftermath of never-ending recurrent expenditure. We will in future have to pay substantial interest on the loans we are now raising, and provide for their amortisation.Of the five groups of sources from which our revenue may be drawn, only two of them can be relied upon for financing our recurrent expenditure. It should be clear to anyone that recurrent expenditure cannot be financed from Loans and Grants. They are spasmodic and therefore uncertain sources of wealth. The Colonial Development and Welfare money is an ex gratia award made to us by Britain from funds provided by the seat of the British tax-payers to enable us to finance certain classes of our capital and recurrent expenditure. The quantum, duration, and even the direction of this award, if and when made, are matters within the absolute discretion of the 'benefactors. It would be reckless and show lack of sense of financial responsibility to rely on Colonial Development and Welfare funds as a sure source of financing our recurrent expenditure. We are, therefore, compelled to depend on Heads 301 to 310 and Head 311 for financing this category of expenditure.What may be regarded as prolific sources of revenue under Heads 301-310 are very few indeed. They are General Tax and Income Tax, Motor Vehicle Licences, and Produce Sales Tax. It will, I believe, be agreed by all Hon members that we have in the past done our best to increase our revenue from these sources. We have raised the rate of Capitation Tax, increased fees for the first time. The financial outcome of these impositions is that during the two fiscal years of 1953-55, no less than 2.2 million have accrued to our Exchequer and1.2 million more will accrue to us in 1955-56. Without this additional revenue our surplus on the 31st March this year would have found it difficult to balance our Budget for the coming year.It, however, took all the courage we could muster to carry these imposition through. We were misrepresented and maligned in a most unkind manner. The natural prejudices of our people towards the payment of tax were exploited in some cases without scruple by the opponents of the government. It is a happy thought, however, to find how much the Region stands benefited from the tax policy of this government.But, speaking for this government, what we have done in the past is all we propose to do in the way of tax imposition for the rest of our present tenure of office.I have already pointed out that the manipulation of sources of revenue under Head. 311 rests entirely with the federal government. In this connection also, I would like to say that though it is open to us to do so, yet we do not propose to apply or to associate with others in applying to the federal government for increases in the rate of duties under this Head.It follows, therefore, that during the next two financial years of 1955 to 1957 increase in revenue from the two groups of sources with which I have been dealing will depend entirely on the voluntary and inevitable results of economic forces operating in this Region.Ordinarily, we will have the normal increase of some 10 per cent per annum on our revenue. The development schemes of the government when executed will raise the productivity, and hence the earnings of our people. This in turn will be bound to reflect itself in a rise in our revenue.Better and more roads, for instance, would encourage more travelling; would tend to stimulate an enlargement in the volume of road transport, and would enhance the incomes of farmers by bringing many more of them to their markets more cheaply and more quickly. These factors would reflect themselves in a larger yield from General Tax, from Motor Vehicle Licenses, and Duty on Motor Spirit.To be continued
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