The Minister of Finance, Wale Edun, and the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Atiku Bagudu, have assured Nigerians that the high cost of living being witnessed by Nigerians is currently being addressed.
They spoke during a sectoral debate organized by the House of Representatives in Abuja on Tuesday.
Olayemi Cardoso, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, and Zacch Adedeji, Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, joined the ministers to allay the fear of Nigerians about the current inflation.
The debate was organized for the finance sector and stakeholders on the current cost of living at a Plenary in Abuja on Tuesday.
Speaking, Edun, who is also the coordinating minister of the economy, said, “Where we are as a nation is a much better place than we were in on May 29, 2023.”
He added that Nigeria as a country was on the road to economic disaster by way of subsidy on fuel, adding that it was expected that there would be challenges as a result of subsidy removal.
Edun said that inflation had increased and the cost of living had spiked, but stated that President Bola Tinubu was committed to protecting the poorest and the vulnerable.
“As things improve, there will be further intervention on behalf of the vulnerable to assist in the cost of living.
“Let us be confident, calm, and assured that Nigeria will change in terms of economic management and that there will be intervention in every sector.”
According to him, there is a need to tackle inflation because full inflation accounts for 33 percent of the consumer price index.
He said there was a need to return to production, adding that industry, however, required energy to function optimally and that the President was also committed to using state power to subdue vested interest in the oil sector.
On his part, Bagudu said the president was committed to national development, adding that the president reckoned with the challenges of the living conditions of the people.
“What is happening in our country is obvious to someone visiting a construction site; we are very clear that we are on the right path and the challenges of the moment are being tackled.
“We are getting support from international partners, and they are all acknowledging the commendable steps that the president is taking.
“We have seen investments in the rail sector, the NNLG, and we assure you that we will overcome the challenges of the moment and sustain the economic growth as promised by the President,” he said.
In a related development, Cardoso expressed confidence that positive outcomes from the administration of Tinubu were already emerging and would further emerge shortly.
“The concern as per the cost of living is genuine, and the urgency of the matter is not lost on us at the CBN, and we are working tirelessly to bring up a lasting solution.
He said inflation was expected to decline in 2024, adding that this would be aided by improved agricultural productivity.
He said that the challenges of the exchange rate had been tackled, adding that they were fueled by speculation, increased forex demand, increased capital outflow, excess liquidity, and increased demand, among others.
He said the CBN was addressing the forex demand by clearing forex operations and adjusting the remuneration standard deposit, among others.
Speaking, the FIRS boss, Adedeji, said the service was not a revenue-generating agency but a revenue-collection agency, adding that the agency was doing a lot to increase the nation’s revenue base.
According to him, the target for 2023 revenue was N10 trillion, and we achieved N12.3 trillion because of the decision taken by the president.
Adedeji said the president decided to rectify the distortion in the economic parameters and remove the fuel subsidy.
According to him, “We have overperformance from VAT collection and company income tax. We have the target of collecting N19.2 trillion in 2024.”
The chairman added that the N19.2 trillion target was based on the fact that it would not collect new taxes but bring more people into the tax rate.
He said less than 60 companies, as of today, contribute less than 60 percent to the nation’s company income tax.
Meanwhile, Benjamin Kalu, the Deputy Speaker of the sectoral debate with the Ministers of CBN and FIRS, said it was imperative to recognize the urgency and importance of the agenda before it.
He said, “We must also confront the stark realities of the economic, fiscal, and revenue challenges that our beloved nation, Nigeria, is currently facing.
“In the face of global economic shifts and domestic challenges, it is clear that robust reform measures are not just beneficial but imperative.
“We are at a pivotal moment where the decisions we make and the policies we implement will impact the lives of millions of Nigerians”
He said the reform should not only address immediate needs but also lay a resilient and dynamic framework that would adapt to future challenges and opportunities.
According to him, these measures should stimulate growth, foster innovation, and uplift the lives of every Nigerian.