Michel Arrion, the European Union (EU) ambassador to Nigeria and ECOWAS, says EU cannot promise further financial assistance to Nigeria.
Arrion made this known at a lecture which the IBB Golf Club organised in Abuja.
The lecture had as its theme: ‘40 years of European Union in Nigeria: Lessons learned and the way forward’.
Arrion said Nigeria remains EU key partner in view of the role it plays in global affairs.
The envoy added that the union would scale up its efforts towards the country’s institutional, political and economic development for a more prosperous future.
He said Nigeria could not be said to be poor, as it has enough resources to meet its developmental needs.
Arrion called for a more equitable distribution of the nation’s wealth to ensure growth and stability and unleash its enormous economic potentials.
He explained that the combine aides to the country were about ten percent of its country’s annual budget.
According to him, the official development assistance (ODA) flow in Nigeria is about $2.5 billion yearly, which corresponds roughly to about 10 percent of the federal budget (N7,3trillion or $24 billion).
This, he said has raised the question of should EU continue to give aide to Nigeria.
Arrion, however, said the regional block would scale up its efforts towards the country’s institutional, political and economic development for a more prosperous future.
“We are not offering more financial support, we are proposing more political and policy dialogue, technical assistance, capacity building, training, transfer of technology,” he said.
“We also proposing more advocacies for more private investments and other innovative sources of funding.”
The envoy, therefore, called for improving in tax collection to finance the development of the country.
According to him, Nigeria must find alternative funding to ODA including improved tax collection which must be improved at least five times more and also spend better.
Quoting Price Water Cooper (PwC 2016), he said: “Nigeria collects about N5.5 trillion or 18 billion dollars per year.
“About 10 million people (10 percent of adult population) are registered for personal income tax (half of them in Lagos).
“The rate of VAT compliance by registered entities is about 12 per cent. The rate is lower for corporate income tax nine per cent.”
He also said Nigeria must attract more foreign investment five times more, to reach the level of Angola or Vietnam for instance and put in place more and better Public Private Partnerships.
Arrion said the evolution of the vibrant relationship of equal partners between Nigeria and the EU was founded on shares values and aspirations and mutual trust.
According to him EU in its 40 years of engagement with Nigeria had identified development priorities, funded projects to stimulate the Nigeria’s economy, reduce hunger and disease.
He said the union had also helped to enhance institutional capacities, strengthen governance and fight insecurity in Nigeria.
SOURCE: The Cable