Olanrewaju Lawal, Birnin Kebbi
Kebbi State Governor Abubakar Atiku Bagudu has said his administration is making progress in generating economic activity and attracting more companies in order to stay afloat among insolvent States in Nigeria.
Bagudu was reacting to the inclusion of Kebbi among insolvent Nigerian states during a day consultative meeting with new media practitioners held in Birnin Kebbi on Tuesday.
The Federal Government on Monday raised the alarm over the low level of Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) by State Governments and declared Katsina, Kebbi, Borno, Bayelsa and Taraba States have become insolvent after their IGR collections were declared ‘extremely poor’.
The Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) Chairman, Mr Elias Mbam, who raised the concern while receiving the Annual States viability index (ASVI) from the Editor-in-Chief of the Economic Confidential, Mr Yushau A Shuaib, in his office in Abuja, noted that the Federation Account was currently overstressed by the unending demands of the three tiers of government, urging states to evolve creative ways of fattening their IGR to lessen the strain on the federal purse.
Governor Bagudu said that the priority of his administration now is to make Kebbi State generate economic activity, and become economically viable that could generate IGR and taxes.
The Governor noted that Kebbi State could not compare itself with Industrial states like Lagos with many companies and ports, stressing that with time, the State would start generating buoyant IGR from companies and firms springing up in the State.
‘We are among five states with least IGR, this is true. And there is a big debate in economics as it has always been – whether we should tax people or we should encourage them to use their money and generate activities,’ the Governor said.
‘People who are familiar with Islamic economics know that in Islam, Islam only taxes people who keep capital, and many economists have studied that, and concluded that this is logical because somebody who keeps capital out of circulation and is not using it to create economic activities should be taxed.
‘Therefore, our priority in Kebbi State is to generate more economic activities for more people to have more incomes; if they have incomes, they will be able to feed their families better.
‘They will be able to provide some of these services which the government will provide; they will save some money for medication, send their children to school and better their lives.
‘This is equivalent to raising the government’s IGR via taxing the people, and this is what the government is doing,’ he said.
‘We are unlike other states with crude oil that have been tapped; neither like Lagos State which is near the ocean with a port. We are a state where headquarters of companies are not domiciled.
‘So, it is now that we are trying to be the taxable base but more importantly generate the income, create economic activities, and I am glad we catching up and making some progress in agricultural produce of all types.
‘We are making progress as small and big companies are coming in, and we are not worried about taxing them now as they are now creating employment opportunities for our people but we will tax them,’ he said.
Bagudu also recalled that the state artisanal miners, a few weeks ago, presented gold bars worth $720,000 dollars to President Muhammadu Buhari, assuring that the State would deal in tonnes rather than bars.
‘This will generate economic activities and will lead to revenue in the nearest future,’ the Governor said.