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Don’t just increase revenue, plan how to use it on infrastructure projects, IMF tells Nigeria

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The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has urged Nigeria to prioritise and embark on infrastructural projects that would boost the economic growth of the Nation.

Paolo Mauro, Deputy Director, IMF Fiscal Affairs Department, said this on Wednesday during the launch of the Fiscal Monitor Report for October at the on-going IMF/World Bank Group (WBG) Annual Meetings in Bali.

The report looks at global public sector assets and liabilities 10 years after the global financial crisis.

He said that increasing revenues was very important for Nigeria, but equally significant was the choices made on what it would be spent on.

“Generally, I think it is not only about shoring up the revenue, but also being careful about the spending by improving the choices that one makes on which infrastructure project to carry out.

“How does one go about selecting the ones that are really going to boost growth?

“So I think it is a priority to increase revenues but also to be careful about the ways we can make spending more efficient.”

Mauro also said that the ratio of interest payments to revenue for Nigeria was high, adding that increase in revenues would ensure social spending, build infrastructure and carrying out other types of spending for economic growth.

He added that discussions had been on over the years with the government on how to go about achieving economic growth since it was clearly a priority.

“We see the priorities in tax administration but there are also aspects of tax policy that could help.

“In tax administration, to increase the compliance rate, something that could be done is to increase tax audit to use e-filing to a greater extent, there are also data matching exercises that could be conducted.

“Generally, trying to reduce tax evasion and possibly corruption are priorities on the tax administration side.

“On the tax policy side, usually, what has been recommended in previous discussions is to increase excise tax on tobacco and alcohol, while stamp duties is something that can be looked at also,” he said.

On global trend, Vitor Gaspar, Director, Fiscal Affairs Department, said that global debt continued to rise in 2017 reaching a new record high at 182 trillion dollars.

He added that in the few years between the Asian Financial Crisis and the Global Financial Crisis, global debt more than doubled with China accounting for more than 40 per cent of the US dollars value of the increase in the last 10 years.

He also said that the US and China together represented almost two-third of the increase.

He also said that the monitor showed that for a sample of 31 countries, covering 61 per cent of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP), total assets was worth 101 trillion dollars, or 219 per cent of GDP.

“In the advanced economies, prior to the global financial crisis, private debt was rising fast while public debt was broadly stable.

“After the global financial crisis, we see a role reversal, with fast increases in public debt. The sharp increase in public debt was only partly due to the implementation of fiscal stimulus measures.

“Another contributing factor was the massive expansion of public sector balance sheets because of government rescue actions,” he said.

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