ACTIONAID Nigeria, a Non-Governmental Organisation has challenged the Federal Government to reduce the number of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDA) as well as the salaries of federal lawmakers to cut running cost of government.
The group also advocated a unicameral system of government such as retaining either the Senate or House of Representatives in order to save cost for infrastructure development.
In a statement issued on the State of the Nation on Sunday, in Abuja ActionAid noted how the cost of governance in the country has been ‘disproportionately high relative to productivity’. This, the group emphasised is impacting most vulnerable members of the society such as women, children, Persons with Disabilities (PwDs), and the youths.
Describing the current Value Added Tax (VAT) collection system as ineffectual and porous, spending VAT proceeds on recurrent expenditure it noted is counter-productive.
“To cut the running cost, Nigeria must reduce the number of Ministries, Departments and Agencies as a matter of urgency. Government also must liaise with the Revenue Mobilization and Fiscal Commission (RMFAC) to slash salaries of all lawmakers and political office holders in order to save money for the infrastructural development of Nigeria especially now that funding the 2020 budget poses a huge challenge,” the statement reads in part.
“The Senate or the House of Representatives should be scrapped as a bi-cameral legislature increases the cost of governance.”
“There is need for more consultation with stakeholders, as the proposed VAT increase will hike inflation and put more economic burden on the masses. Rather than increase VAT, AAN calls for broadening of the Nigerian tax base. We insist on a thorough appraisal of the current VAT regime and ask FG to account to the people how the proceeds are spent,” the statement reads in part.”
Several stakeholders have prior to this time called for a reduction in the cost of governance, especially the lawmakers take-home.
On 5th of this month, Bishop of Sokoto Catholic Diocese, Hassan Kukah, one of the respected clergies in the country told President Muhammadu Buhari and the Senate President Ahmed Lawan to see to the reduction in the lawmakers entitlements.
Other issues of interest include the growing insecurity and volatile environments in different parts of the country, Climate change threat to the fight against hunger, malnutrition, disease and poverty, the rights of mining communities flouted by investors among others.
ActionAid, however, called for an appraisal of the current VAT process and how its proceeds are spent. It also sought for more budgetary allocation to the health, agriculture and education sectors for the benefit of the masses.
“The 2020 budget should capture adequate funding of Agriculture, Health and Education sectors given their strategic importance. Agriculture employs up to 80% of the population, especially in the informal sector, where the majority of the small-scale food producers are women farmers. The health sector requires improved funding. Our health centers, maternities and hospitals lack basic essential facilities and drugs and evidences have shown that increased investment in these pro-poor sectors has strong impact on poverty and inequality reduction, while simultaneously creating employment opportunities.
“While we acknowledge that the police alone cannot deliver on security, we charge the Inspector General of Police to take the battle to the criminals’ doorsteps by re-evaluating and implementing new operational strategies to stem the tide of kidnapping, armed robbery and banditry. We urge the federal and states’ legislatures to strengthen Nigeria’s legal framework in order to have stiffer sanctions that will deter people from engaging in criminal activities.
“All hands must be on deck to cut down on carbon emissions as a way of combating global warming. We urge leaders to show courage in combatting entrenched interests in fighting climate change and also show commitment in investing in the opportunities of the future. Massive and aggressive tree planting campaign should be embarked on to reduce the effects of global warming/climate change.
“In addition, there should be an explicit national agricultural policy framework, adequate provision for irrigation, drainage, weather forecasting and other agricultural technology infrastructure. Furthermore, to boost agriculture, the following should be prioritized; incentive for training in agriculture, participatory capacity building for farmers, drought resistant and short duration high yielding crops development, integration of indigenous and modern knowledge on climate change adaptation, strengthening of the extension services, and encouragement for the nurturing of existing farmer groups,” the statement reads.