Akwa Ibom State government says it will adopt new measures to boost its Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) by expanding the tax net to cover many neglected areas, describing the current target as dismal.
The state government expects to generate about N35.4 billion to support the 2018 budget of N651 billion.
Linus Nsikan Nkan, commissioner for finance who made this known in Uyo, the state capital in an interview, said the state government was considering new strategies to expand its revenue base, adding that property tax was being considered a major source of tax revenue by the state government.
Nkan, who lamented the poor state of the IGR, which according to him fluctuates between N600 million and N800 million monthly except in January, said a tax summit would be held to seek the opinion of tax experts on how to improve the current revenue level and ensure that its contribution is substantial.
“We are planning a tax workshop to call on stakeholders and experts to give us suggestions, our IGR is very poor,’’ he said.
The commissioner, who also made clarifications on the loan component of the 2018 budget of the state government, explained the N105 billion was the balancing figure in the budget, adding, “The budget estimate does not need to contain the debt profile of the state government.”
According to Nkan, the state government’s indebtedness to banks and other financial institutions could be found in its published accounts, which are in the public domain.
“What I needed to clarify is that the budget does not contain the debt profile of the state government. The provision for loans from the banks to finance budget is just an estimate. In fact in 2018, the state might not even take any loan. The loan estimate represented the balancing figure in the budget while the published account contains the true position of the debt profile of the state government,’’ he said.
The commissioner explained that what was included in the 2018 budget as loan was purely an estimate and not the actual figure maintaining that the loan process of the executive arm of government is subject to approval by the state lawmakers.
“If the state government has a need to obtain any loan, it needs to write to house of assembly, enumerates what the loan is needed for and the amount that is required and the house of assembly will consider and if justified, will approve the request,’’ he said.
“In the course of the year, there are some money that came in, you know you cannot spend the money that was not budgeted for. And if you did not budget for the money, you still have to subject to approval of the state house of assembly. You are aware of the Paris Club refund that came in, provision was not made and as a governor in the course of the year, you could also realise certain things that become necessary, which was not captured in the budget. These are the reasons we go for supplementary budget not because everything has been exhausted in the main budget,’’ he said.
“Administratively, there is no way the state government can correctly pre-empt what it is going to do. There are certain times, money just comes, if you did not budget for it, you will have problem spending it and you know the bottle necks involved. It is administratively very costly. The budget size is not a big deal but the percentage of what you can achieve.
On the disclosure of the state government’s debt, he said the state house of assembly committee on public accounts is considering the accounts of the state adding that the committee should be able to discuss about the debt profile of the state because it is now verifying the accounts of 2016 with the actual expenditure which he said has been captured in the account.
“The state government has published the account of 2014, 2015 and the account of 2016 is the one being considered right now,” he said.
He commended the cordial relationship existing between the executive and the legislative arms of government in Akwa Ibom State which according to him has made it easier for the smooth running of government business adding that the achievements recorded by Governor Udom Emmanuel in many sectors including agriculture and industrialisation would not have been possible without the support from the state house of assembly.