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We'll not cut salary, pension in 2015 'FG 'As Okonjo-Iweala presents N4.3trn budget 'No capital votes for some MDAs 'Mansion tax in Abuja

Published by Tribune on Sat, 20 Dec 2014

THE Federal Government, on Wednesday, disclosed that despite the new economic development facing the country, as a result of decline in the crude oil price, it would neither reduce civil servants' salaries nor the stipends for the nation's pensioners in 2015.Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr (Mrs) Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, stated this in Abuja, after presenting the 2015 budget estimates of N4.3 trillion, on behalf of President Goodluck Jonathan, to the National Assembly.The minister, however, asked Nigerians to brace up for tough times as a result of the dwindling revenue from crude oil sales, which would necessitate the government adopting certain measures to shore up its sagging revenue.According to the minister, as part of the government's measures to boost revenue, 'a 10 per cent import surcharge would be imposed on new private jets, which is estimated to yield about N3.7 billion in 2015; 39 per cent import surcharge on luxury yachts, estimated to potentially raise N1.6 billion in 2015; and five per cent import surcharge on luxury cars, estimated to yield about N2.6 billion of additional revenues.'Okonjo-Iweala also said 'there will be a surcharge on business and first class tickets on airlines, but not on economy tickets. There will also be the imposition of three per cent luxury surcharge on champagnes, wines and spirits to generate about N2.3 billion in 2015; and a one per cent FCT mansion tax on residential properties with value of N300 million and above, which should yield additional N360 million.'The minister also gave a hint that the government might embark on a gradual increase of Value Added Tax (VAT).According to her, 'Nigeria has one of the lowest VAT rates in the world and medium term efforts must involve the legislature to see what opportunities exist with VAT which largely benefits states.'Whilst state governments get 85 per cent of VAT, the Federal Government gets just 15 per cent. A five per cent increase in VAT rate, for instance, would yield N614 billion, most of which would go to the states and local governments,' she said.The minister also disclosed that the government was working on measures to reduce spending. These measures, which would result in the government saving N82.5 billion, would include a 50 per cent reduction in international travels and training for all MDAs as well as stoppage of capital votes to some MDAs.The government proposed to reallocate funds saved from these to more impactful programmes in the security, health and education sectors.According to Okonjo-Iweala, the government would cut down on the number of 'committees, sub-committees and commission not underpinned by legislation, so as to reduce recurrent expenditure.'She also disclosed that government had commenced partial implementation of the White Paper on the rationalisation of agencies, in accordance with the recommendation of the Oronsaye Report and had built in savings of about N6.5 billion in the 2015 budget from the rationalisation.The minister was accompanied by some Federal Executive Council (FEC) members, including Minister of Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Senator Bala Mohammed; Minister of Water Resources, Mrs Sarah Ochekpe; and the Director-General of the Budget Office, Bright Okogwu.The minister also noted that the 2015 budget was based on a $65 per barrel benchmark, despite the declining prices.She equally said the Federal Government was targeting revenue of N3.6 trillion in 2015, stressing that 'this budget is based on a few key indicators on $65 per barrel benchmark and we are going to stick to it for now, despite the declining prices, because we fill the average price next year around $65 to $70.'ax
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