The federal government has lamented that the coronavirus pandemic has dealt a heavy blow on its revenue.
Speaking shortly after the federal executive meeting on Wednesday, Lai Mohammed, the minister for culture and information added that the problem is not peculiar to Nigeria alone.
He said, “We are not just Nigerians, we are all witnessing what is going on in the world today. When the budget was passed in December last year, we all celebrated that the budget was passed for the first time in a good time to allow for us to plan. We were very hopeful that this year we will be able to achieve a lot,” he said.
“I remember that the benchmark for crude oil was $57 but from nowhere today we have COVID-19, which has brought every economy in the world to its knees. Nigeria cannot be an exception. As a matter of fact, we are praying that the crude will go to $30 per barrel. All sources of revenue have been attacked by COVID-19, when we locked our borders how will goods come in? How will customs make money for the country?
“Abuja, Lagos and Ogun have been on lockdown for more than four weeks. It was only yesterday that we were easing the lockdown. How will they make money to pay taxes? So if we say there is no money it is not because we are seeking for lame excuses.
“The entire world, not just Nigeria is facing serious fiscal challenges. Forty million people in the US today have filed for unemployment, the aviation industry alone has lost about $1 trillion.
“So please look at this in context, if you budgeted for $57 a barrel and we sold at $18 a barrel two weeks ago. This is why the minister of finance at the last council meeting, informed all of us that they will slash every ministry’s budget by 20 percent capital and 16 percent overhead. So where will the money come from? So when we complain there is no money, it is genuine.
“If you know what is being spent on COVID-19 alone and what it is costing the whole world, you will be able to appreciate this better.”