Okonjo Iweala’s K-Leg Austerity Measure

Moshood Odunayo

I shake my head in dismay as i watch the supposedly professor of Economics and Nigeria’s Finance Minister on Channels TV spewing out balderdash on measures the government have put in place as the price of crude oil falls with the depletion of excess crude account. Hear her as she speaks, the users of luxurious items, such as private jets, yachts, alcoholic beverages and expensive cars, would be required to pay special taxes for such goods.public officials foreign trips will also be reduced.

The principle is that those who are better off in the society and I hope they won’t mind will be willing to share a bit more in remitting a little bit more to the treasury than what they normally do on these things. The solution proposed by the finance minister is lame; because to increase taxation is to reduce the impacts of a dwindling oil revenue. What measures did she and the government put in place during the period of oil boom to provide absorbent for the economy in period of crisis? To pick out foreign training and travels as a way of austerity measure is myopic. What have they done to provide the needed infrastructure such as power, road, security e.t.c during oil revenue windfall to accelerate the industrialization of the economy?

Agriculture,small and medium scale enterprises do not have any comprehensive growth program. Solid minerals remains a mirage as investment focuses on oil and gas. When the oil revenue boom, poor Nigerians did not benefit but now that it has decline it is the masses that will bear the brunt. When you start raising taxes,doesn’t that increase the cost of the item which is passed on to the consumers and when the cost of normal goods increases doesn’t that mean consumers must earn more to purchase that same item?When the same item cannot be purchased by the consumer,isn’t it a loss to the producer?

When the producer starts to take a loss doesn’t that mean the the producer will start sacking its workforce? When the workforce is sacked doesn’t the government now have to step in to support the sacked workforce? Can the government provide for additional unemployed? No! Instead of taxing commodities and Nigerians they should start the austerity measure by reducing the hefty wages of the executive and the legislature,cut the allowance of all public office holders and number of vehicles attach to their offices, ban the importation of most goods coming in to the country because we have enough local capacity and this will reduce the outflow of scarce foreign currencies from the economy, reducing the budget downward. The government should wage a total, diligent and genuine war on corruption. Those in government should stop using evangelical jets and other clandestine means to launder public fund. Both former and present political office holders to be sincerely probed to determine the source of their stupendous wealth and any possession not properly accounted for should be confiscated for public use. 

The office of the first lady should be entirely scrapped, though it is not recognized by the constitution.under Jonathan his wife has become more powerful than him as extra budgetary funds are channeled to her illegal office without probity, accountability and parliamentary approval. The President should sell more than half of the presidential jets that are in use at his disposal. The EFCC should be strengthened with a vibrant and indefatigable leader,the present incumbent is a toothless bulldog and what happen to the NNPC missing fund?what of the Stella Oduah Gate?

What of the money meant for the shady ammunition deal in South Africa that was stalled due to diplomatic manouvre? What of the Abacha loot and the Ibori fund that was transferred to Nigeria? We will recover more money from corrupt politicians than any austerity measure. Government should invest heavily in the Agricultural sector by making credit facilities available to the farmers,extension services/seminars unit should be established throughout the country to sensitize and orientate farmers on how to improve their agricultural yields,change production and planting method. With these the Agriculture Industry will generate employment to the teeming youths and unemployed graduates. Emphasis should also be placed on farm mechanization to encourage large scale production.policies and production strategy should should be centred on commodities that can be exported to generate foreign exchange earnings and provide raw materials for our ailing local industries.

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