Uche Usim, Abuja
Nigeria’s new Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, Wednesday restated the need for the country to increase its revenue generation capacity to avoid slipping into fiscal crisis.
She stated this in Abuja on assumption duty at the Finance Ministry headquarters.
She said: “We have to increase revenues to prevent our country from slipping into fiscal crisis. As you know, our nation is facing a near-fiscal crisis, and it is up to us to make sure that it is arrested and ensure we don’t slip into a crisis.
“We have been growing in eight consecutive quarters, but it is a growth that is still fragile. Our revenues have grown, but they are still 55 per cent from what we have budgeted.
“We still have to pay salaries and other statutory obligations. We have to pay debts and we also need to operate on a day-to-day basis, in addition to doing capital projects for sustained growth of our economy.”
Ahmed emphasised that President Muhammadu Buhari has doubled the task of her Ministry by fusing it with the Ministry of Budget and National Planning.
She attributed the move to the good work done by the staff of the Minister, especially during the period of recession.
“The President has just doubled our assignment. We got this assignment because of the quality of work that we have produced. The Ministry of Finance has one of the best cerebral civil servants that we have today.
“That we have been re-matched with the ministry of budget and national planning is also a very weighty responsibility that has been given to us”, she added.
The Minister therefore encouraged the entire staff of the Ministry to roll up their sleeves for the task ahead.
“We will be reaching out to our brothers and sisters at the Budget and National Planning; where there are gaps, we will bridge them, and we will make some changes to ensure we work better together.
“The President has brought me back here so that we can continue the implementation of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), and the other initiatives that we collectively started together.
“We have to increase revenues; if not our country will slip into fiscal crisis,” she noted.
Meanwhile, following President Buhari reappointment of Mrs Zainab Ahmed as Finance Minister, experts have expressed divergent views over the size of her portfolio.
Mr Oluwaseyi Abe, a former President of Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers (CIS), for instance said that if the ministers can have a very robust management team in charge of their ministries, department and agencies, the country would witness tremendous transformation under them.
His words: “If all the ministers put together a vibrant and robust management team, each of them would perform. The next few months will however determine the extent of their performance and how the country would fare. But I am sure if they can have good management teams that can do the work, the country will be in for a good time.”
But Mr Johnson Chukwu, the Managing Director of Cowries Assets Management Limited, was miffed by the reappointment of Mrs Zainab Ahmed as Minister of Finance. He queried:
How could they go and bring this kind of person who have no experience to come and run the economy like this?”