ICAN Backs FG on Finance Bill and Border Closure but cautions African Free Trade.

The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) has declared its support to the Finance Bill 2019, describing it as a welcome development that would ensure that the country benchmarks itself with international best practices.

In a communiqué issued at the end of its 4th economic discourse in Lagos last week, the Institute said the “finance bill addressed the various old anomalies such as widening the tax net; and granting/withdrawing of incentives” but explained that “ rather than granting tax incentives to the informal sector, government should device means for collecting affordable taxes from the informal sector”..

The Institute also called on government to formulate a robust telecommunication national policy to facilitate ease of access to data by everyone in the country in order to realize optimum value in digital economy.

On border closure “participants commended the government for taking the bold step, noting that it has reduced smuggling, dumping and revenue leakages as well as tightening security around the border”, but implored “government to design policy framework to regulate economic activities around its borders, since it cannot close the borders for ever”.

The economic parley also recognized that the objectives of African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) are lofty but warned that it may be difficult for Nigeria to derive maximum benefit without standard quality control policies in place.

The Institute therefore implored government to critically examine the agreement before ratification since its current form merely seeks to make Nigeria a target market for manufacturers in African countries, due to its large population and high propensity to consume, without necessarily adding any economic value to Nigerians.

“For the country to enjoy maximum benefit from AfCFTA, there is the need for government to improve the level of infrastructure as well as enforce quality standards of Nigerian products in line with international best practices”, the communiqué stated.

Other Recommendations include that “diversification of the economy from oil must be intensified to increase the percentage of non-oil contribution to Gross Domestic Product; “Government should consider the terms and condition of external borrowings and borrowing should be tailored towards bridging the infrastructural deficit. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) inflow to the country should be directed towards the sectors that generate high employment and high economic growth.”

The economic discourse held as part of ICAN’s corporate social responsibilities had as its theme “Current Reforms in Nigeria and 2020 Economic Outlook. The objective was to review the current economic reforms in Nigeria with a view to contributing to the global and national imperatives for sustainable growth with renowned economist and consultant Dr. Biodun Adedipe as main speaker.

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