Federal Government: Get creative and forget about BVN funds
The Federal Government in its culture of laziness as it searches for easy money has set its sights on monies deposited in banks by individuals and organisations. This hunt by the FG is predicated on an estimated 46 million bank accounts which are not linked to any Bank Verification Number (BVN).
This has of course begged the question; why is the government always so desperate for ‘free money’? When other progressive nations are thinking of how to expand economic activity and invariably, increase the amount of money their citizens have in bank accounts, Nigeria’s government has for weeks been scheming to take money out of corporate and individual accounts.
We however believe that the government should instead be more creative in its approach to managing the economy. The economic diversification chant should go beyond rhetoric, but given a strategic, committed, intelligent push. Different sectors of the economy from Agriculture, to Mining, Manufacturing, Technology and so many others only need concerted efforts to start blossoming.
The present administration has in the last two years, favoured issuance of bonds and all sorts of debt instruments to stay afloat. If the government has however run out of places to get easy cash, the cash deposited in banks by Nigerian citizens and possibly non-citizens cannot be the way out.
In fact, as noted in some quarters, such an action might send a wrong signal to foreign investors and the international community. At a time when the country seems to have made appreciable growth in ease of doing business, it therefore defies logic that investors will be expected to troop into a country where government can wake up, and clamp down on any “loose cash” in sight.
The government’s decision like virtually every other endeavour of the present administration revolves around anti-corruption. But the simple logic which should have perhaps been allowed to prevail is that; accounts without BVN remain barred from transactions until it is done. Going beyond this to convert these monies into government use is cynical, and a lazy way to raise funds.
Nigeria’s public debt as at June stands at N19.6 trillion (US$64.2 billion), which is about 16 percent of the 2016 GDP of US$405 billion. However, confiscating banks depositors’ funds through this BVN strategy, is far from being ingenious as a way of meeting the government’s growing financial obligations. Apart from the existing debt, there are also plans for a $5.5 billion eurobond. Nigerians remember only too well, the tortuous past of struggling to pay series of foreign debts which accumulated mostly through the military era. But this administration has not only favoured borrowing, but appears to have run out of potential foreign creditors, borrowed excessively from domestic banks, and now, simply wants to take by force, what it hasn’t been smart enough to build up on its own.
As some reason in line with the government’s argument; ill gotten wealth could account for the chunk of the accounts without BVN. However, there are potentially millions of people in the diaspora, even in prison, or incapacitated one way or the other, and regardless of their conditions, have the right to access their funds whenever they are able to enrol for BVN. Until this is done, access to the funds only needs to be restricted, not converted to government use.
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