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Vice President Yemi Osinbajo says the federal government has no desire to impose austerity measures on Nigerians, saying that government will rather stimulate the economy through other ways.
Osinbajo stated this on Thursday, while speaking at the The Nationâ€™s First National Economic Forum held in Lagos.
The Vice President stressed that state and federal governments must move away from over dependence on revenue gotten from the petroleum sector.
Osinbajo noted that the 2016 budget will â€œstimulate the economy rather than impose undue austerity on the citizensâ€ â€“ contrary to the fear of many.â€
â€œIt is pathetic that a nation with over 170 million people bench-marked its budget on the price of oil. We must look beyond oil because it disturbs us from looking at other sectors. In order to move the country forward, we must reduce the Federal Governmentâ€™s and statesâ€™ dependence on sharing revenue made from oil sales.â€
Osinbajo, while noting that government was aware of the hardship facing Nigerians, also said government was working towards bringing change to the different sectors of the economy.
â€œThe foundation for a strong economy demands that we have appropriate fiscal policies that will help the country that is arising from a very low rate of VAT and a low taxpayerâ€™s base. We are focusing on increasing the countryâ€™s taxpayersâ€™ base. We are committed to expanding the tax net.â€
â€œFor instance, 30 per cent of the countryâ€™s budget has been earmarked for capital expenditure. Non-oil sources, comprising company income tax, VAT and others, are expected to contribute N1.5 trillion, which is more than the estimated revenue from oil. This is unprecedented in the history of the country.â€
Speaking on the issue of privatisation, Osinbajo ruled out the possibility of government reversing the privatisation of the power sector by previous administration, noting that government is not a good manager of business.
â€œEven if we transmit the 5,000 megawatts currently generated, over half of it will be lost because of inadequate infrastructureâ€, the VP added.