‘Cutting governance cost’ll not solve revenue problems’

Amarachi Orjiude and Sami Olatunji

The Director General of the Budget Office of the Federation, Ben Akabueze, on Tuesday said cutting budget allocations to Federal Government agencies would not have a significant impact on Nigeria’s revenue.

Akabueze said this in Abuja at the launch of the Nigerian Development Update by the World Bank.

According to him, allocations to the legislature account for less than one per cent of the total budget for the year and as such, reductions won’t solve revenue problems.

He said, “When people say drop cost, look at the cost profile of the Federal Government for instance, what do you want to drop?

“Some people have said that we pay the legislature too much. Let’s concede that that is the case; the total budget of the National Assembly is N128bn. If I make that zero, this year we have a N13.6tn budget; so, N128bn is less than one per cent. So, how does that move the needle?

“Also, the overhead budget for all Federal Government agencies this year was N425bn, which often is not even funded; if I make that zero, what does it do?”

He also noted that the public service was not bloated, as the total number of public servants was small when compared to the country’s overall population.

“Again if you think the public service is bloated, it is not true; if you take the total number of public servants relative to our population size, it is not much. Public service wages are very low.”

He however stated that the problem of the civil service was that there were too many people in the wrong jobs and too few people in the right jobs, a challenge the Federal Government was working to address.

When asked to proffer a solution to the revenue problems of the country, Akabueze suggested that the country could grow its revenue by eliminating all regressive subsidies.