FG considers tax on soft drinks

Posted by Sylvester Enoghase | 18 October 2019 | 414 times

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•Finance Minister Zainab Ahmed

The Federal Government is considering introducing excise duties on carbonated drinks, according to the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed.

Ahmed gave the indication in an interview with newsmen on Thursday on the sidelines of the ongoing World Bank/IMF Annual Meetings in Washington DC, United States.

She said the idea was one of other areas, besides the proposed increase in VAT, that the government was looking at to broaden its revenue base.

The minister explained that the government was working hard to ensure efficiency in existing revenue streams while searching for new ones.

She said the government would consult with all stakeholders on the proposal in line with standard policy formulation process.

“Any tax that you are introducing will involve a lot of consultations and also amendments of some laws or introduction of new regulations,” she said.

Carbonated drinks include soft drink brands such as Coca Cola, Sprite and Fanta, while excise duty is a tax levied on locally produced goods.

Ahmed said her ministry was working with all the agencies to ensure that collaboration was strengthened in revenue generation.

“The government is trying to ensure that the work of the agencies are complementing each other as opposed to the past where everybody is working in silos.

“Efforts are ongoing to improve the monitoring performance of the revenue generating agencies, especially government-owned enterprises.

“We have now in place a rigorous monthly reconciliation of revenues and that is ensuring that the leakages are minimised.

“There is several cost cutting measures in the SRGI and a number of cost cutting measures initiatives such as innovation and automation as well as capacity building of our people,” she said.

The minister reiterated government’s resolve to sanction revenue generating agencies that fail to meet their targets.

“Mr. President has said that targets will be set for ministers as well as heads of agencies and that when targets are met there will be recommendations and when they are not met there will be consequences.

“So, what was missing in the past was that there were no consequences, so if an agency underperformed there was no consequences.

The minister also said that the closure of the country’s land borders was to compel its neighbours to comply with the terms of trade agreements it signed with them.

Ahmed said that Nigeria was not getting the required cooperation from its neighbours with regard to adherence to the terms of some of the bilateral agreements they signed.

She said that compliance had become more important now that President Muhammadu Buhari had signed Nigeria up to the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).

“We needed to close the borders because we are not getting cooperation from our neighbouring countries.

“We have over the years committed to some alliances and bilateral agreements but our neighbours are not respecting them.

“The practices that our neighbours are engaged in are hurting our economy, hurting our local businesses and we have to make sure that stops.

“That is the purpose for the closure of the border and not revenue generation.

“That revenues are generated is the consequence but that is not the objective.

“It is just to ensure compliance of the commitments that we made between ourselves and our neighbouring countries,” she said.

The minister said the borders would not be reopened until the country got the commitment of its neighbours to agreements signed.

“We hope that at some points there will be discussions at the level of presidents where we will extract some commitments from our neighbours,” she explained. (The Independent)


Source: News Express

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