Nigerians abroad face hard times *As they beg people at home for money *Remittances from abroad reduce to $5bn annually FOLLOWING the harsh economic situation being experienced by European countries and the United States of America, Nigerians in the diaspora are now going through difficult times and have resorted to begging money from those at home.
As a result of this, remittances from Nigerians in the diaspora have reduced from $12 billion to about $5 bilion annually.
The Director-General (DG), Budget Office of the Federation, Dr Bright Okogu, made this revelation on Thursday in Abuja, while speaking on “achieving inclusive growth through pro-poor spending” at the third economic policy and fiscal strategy seminar, organised by the Centre for the Study of Economies of Africa (CSEA).
According to Okogu, the sovereign debt crisis and the declining Gross Domestic Product in Europe, low manufacturing output in France, Germany, Italy and Spain and growing US debt to the Gross Domestic Product ratio have led to situations where Nigerians abroad are now finding it difficult to make ends meet.
To survive the harsh economic climate abroad, Okogu said these Nigerians now beg their relations at home to send money to them.
“This is what I have seen, this is what I have heard, and it is as bad as that,” Okogu said.
Because of the declining remittances from Nigerians in the diaspora, the DG Budget Office said the Nigerian economy would be badly affected, stressing that the growth of the economy largely depended on the informal sector.
In her presentation on “Nigeria: Implementing an investment-friendly transformation,” the coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, highlighted the four-point agenda of the Federal Government as macro economic stability, critical structural reforms, institutional support for corruption fighting agencies and investment in priority sector.
Stressing the need to budget at prudent oil price, the minister stated that this informed the government’s reduction of the 2012 oil price budget benchmark from $75 per barrel to $70 a barrel.
Okonjo-Iweala, who frowned on the 74.4 per cent recurrent expenditure, said that by 2015, the recurrent expenditure of the country would have been reduced to below 70 per cent.
Though the minister said it might be difficult to lay off workers, she, however, disclosed that the Federal Government intended to achieve this recurrent expenditure reduction by merging parastatal agencies, which, she said, were performing similar functions.
In order to ensure macroeconomic stability and sustainable growth, the coordinating minister said plans were ongoing to increase non-oil tax revenues, reduce multiplicity of taxes and laevies and improve collection efficiency.
She said henceforth, all revenue collection agencies would remit 25 per cent of all revenues collected by them as against the usual practice of remitting peanuts.
She said the actions the government took to ensure 48-hour cargo clearance included streamlining the number of agencies from 14 to seven, mandating 24-hour operations for customs and other agencies, disbanding the Nigeria Customs Service Task Force, investing in port infrastructure and developing container management strategy.
To be competitive, she said the Federal Government had appointed a task force in the form of a private sector monitoring group to monitor compliance at the ports as far as the customs and port reforms were concerned.