2015 budget: President to spend N456.98m on allowances

By The Citizen
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The Office of the President will spend N456.98m on honoraria and sitting allowances in 2015.

This is different from the N348, 342,741 projected to be spent by the State House  on honoraria and sitting allowances during the same year.

Details of the 2015 budget proposals obtained in Abuja on Tuesday also show that the office of the President will spend N1.93bn on travels and transport.

The document is not specific on who can receive honoraria   but the President plays host to former Heads of State and governors who make up the   Council of State.

It was also learnt that honoraria could be stipends paid to members of committees set up by the government.

There was no provision for honoraria for the office of President in the 2014 budget proposal but the State House received a provision of N320, 222,500 for it and sitting allowances.

The breakdown of the expenditure on travels and transport shows that the office of the President will be spending N1, 306,834,350 on local travels and transport and the sum of N621, 067,913 on international travels and transport.

The travel bill of the President for 2014   was   higher than the provision for 2015. The 2014 budget made a provision of N2, 378,862,017 for the Office of the President for local and international travels.

For 2015, it is N1,927,902,263 for local and international travels.

For foodstuffs/catering materials supplies, a provision of N142, 472,537 was made for the Office of the President.

The 2015 budget proposal includes a provision of N131, 911,315 for fuel and lubricants for the State House.

The breakdown shows that plant/generator fuel will consume N35, 344,855; motor vehicle fuel, N85, 843,802   and cooking gas/fuel,   N10, 102,858.

For 2014, the State House received lesser provision of N122, 855,267 for fuel and lubricants. This was broken down into motor vehicle fuel, N79, 950,407; plants and generators, N33, 476,963, and cooking gas/fuel cost, N9, 427,898.

A provision of N60, 847,647 was made for the Office of the President for advertisement and publicity.

For the State House, N287,514,283 provision is made for welfare packages; N174,537,975 for refreshment and meals; N215, 635,715 for foodstuffs and catering services; N31,582,475 for medical expenses; and N35,495,233 for publicity and advertisement.

As of press time; it could not be ascertained whether these provisions would be reworked downwards to reflect the austerity measures announced by the Federal Government to enable the country to glide through sliding prices in the international oil market.

Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, had while presenting the 2015 budget breakdown, announced additional measures to check the consumption pattern of Nigerians.

She explained that the measures would commence from the beginning of the second quarter of 2015 and would considerably boost the ratio of non-oil revenues to oil revenues.

Giving details of the measures and how much they will contribute into the nation's treasury, she explained that the government intended to generate more revenue through the strengthening of tax administration.

This, she said, would be achieved if the better-off in the society contributed a bit more towards easing the pains felt from the economic crunch.

As a short term measure, she said a 10 per cent import surcharge would be imposed on new private jets. This is estimated to yield about N3.7bn revenue for the nation in 2015.

Similarly, the minister explained that 39 per cent import surcharge would be imposed on luxury yachts which is estimated to potentially raise N1.6bn in 2015; while another five per cent import surcharge would be placed on luxury cars and this is estimated to yield about N2.6bn of additional revenue.

In the same vein, she said a surcharge on business and first class tickets on airlines would be imposed on travellers. She however, did not stipulate the rate to be applied for this class of levy and how much it will generate.

Others are the imposition of three per cent luxury surcharge on champagnes, wines and spirits expected to generate about N2.3bn in 2015; and a one per cent mansion tax on residential properties within the Federal Capital Territory with a value of N300m and above.

This property tax for luxury building within the FCT, according to the minister, is estimated to yield additional N360m.

All these surcharges, she noted, would yield a total of about N10.56bn in 2015.

She had said, 'We should see these challenging times as times of opportunities to further move this economy on the right path.

'Luckily, this administration had taken to diversification seriously and had begun to make inroads prior to this time.

'The non-oil sector, whose growth has averaged about eight per cent in the last few years, is the primary driver of growth in the economy unlike the oil sector which is actually contracting.

'In the short term, we are determined to improve tax revenues not by increasing tax rates as many have advised, but rather as a pro-people administration, by strengthening our tax administration.

'We aim to plug leakages, increase the tax base and improve tax collection efficiency. A 10 per cent import surcharge would be imposed on new private jets which is estimated to yield about N3.7bn in 2015.'

In the area of tax waivers and exemptions, the finance minister lamented that analysis had shown that about 30 per cent of those that received tax waivers from government especially under the pioneer status scheme now abuse the system. - Punch.