The Alliance for Survival of COVID-19 and Beyond has said that the claim by the Nigerian Government that the nation’s revenue had declined was false, fraught with inadequacies and figures that fail to reflect the country’s economic realities.
Femi Falana, Chairman of the group, in a statement on Thursday said gross mismanagement, incompetence and corruption was the reason for policies such as the electricity tariff increase and fuel hike that makes life burdensome for citizens.
He said, “Since the Federal Government has announced plans to switch from PMS to Compressed Natural Gas, the increase in petrol should be cancelled without delay. After all, the Minister of State in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Mr Timpere Sylva, has assured the nation that CNG would be sold between N95 and N97 per litre.”
Minister of Finance and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, had cited revenue shortfall as reasons behind the government’s recent fuel and electricity tariff hike.
ASCAB, however, listed certain factors that puncture the government’s claim.
“In the first half of this year, oil income distributed by the Federal Allocation Committee (FAAC) was actually 13% above that for last year and the level for the first quarter had been the highest for several years. However, other income, taxes etc, may have fallen due to the lockdowns and other disruptions from COVID-19. NEITI reported that in the first five months of this year, total government revenue was only 62% of the level agreed in the budget, but the revenue budgets are always over-optimistic.
“Oil income for future months will probably be higher than expected in the budget. Oil provides about half the Federal Government’s income.
“VAT in July was higher than June indicating that other government revenue is also increasing after the problems with COVID-19.
“There is no good reason for us to pay more, especially as most other governments are spending huge amounts to protect their populations from the economic fallout from COVID-19. The Central Bank of Nigeria recently claimed to have made available to Nigerians the huge sum of N338 billion to cushion the harsh economic conditions in the country. But since the fund has been transferred to the pampered members of the ruling class, the CBN has refused to accede to popular request to publish the names of the beneficiaries of the huge fund,” the group said.