The Nigerian government has introduced austerity measures to protect the country’s economy from damage as a result of the continuing decline in oil prices.
Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has announced that the 2015 budget which was initially estimated at N4.8 trillion has been scaled down to N4.66 trillion.
The Federal Government has also reviewed the oil benchmark, cutting it from $78 per barrel to $73 and is expected to use about half of the $4.11 billion in the Excess Crude Account (ECA) to offset current expenditure.
“We are not trying to deplete it. But we might go to tap about half of it or slightly less than half to be able to meet expenditures that are crystallising at the moment that we need to make.”
The government will also limit foreign trips made by public officials while luxury goods and private jets will be taxed to increase the country’s non-oil revenue base.
“We all know the definition of luxury goods, we are still compiling the lists and one of the things we can tax is champagne, alcoholic beverages, jets, luxury cars- we will look at the engine capacity, and yachts.”
“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 oil price has been falling quite rapidly for the past weeks. This is due to global factors not under the control of Nigeria. A number of international factors are responsible for it, ranging from geo-political to economical. But even if we cannot control the prices, we can control the way the country is run. The fall oil prices are not a problem. That is why we are calm because we feel that this country can manage the situation,” Okonjo-Iweala added.
The minister however said that, contrary to some suggestions, the FG wouldn’t print more money to cushion the effects of the drop in oil prices as this would lead to inflation and be disastrous for the country.