The Federal Government has been urged by the North East Development Commission (NEDC) to increase allocation to it from Value Added Tax (VAT) and Ecological Fund from three to five per cent.
The Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, NEDC, Mohammed Alkali, made the appeal during a meeting between officials of the commission and the North East Caucus of the National Assembly on Wednesday.
Top on the agenda of the meeting, which held at the legislative complex, was on the North-East Stabilisation and Development Masterplan Project (NESDMP).
The commission currently receives three per cent of VAT and Ecological Fund for its activities. A total of N46.1 billion has been allocated to the NEDC in the 2021 budget.
However, Mr Alkali believes the amount is grossly inadequate to develop the area.
He said one of the commission’s major challenges is the adequate distribution of the VAT fund among the component states.
“In terms of challenges, some are technical, while others are operational… We are able to surmount these challenges and now we have access to the Value Added Tax and the Ecological Fund. But as they say, as you cross one challenge, another challenge might come up. The recent challenge is the agitation against how to distribute the VAT fund among the component states.
“If anything adverse happens to the status quo now, the commission will be affected because the Value Added Tax is one of the major sources of revenue that can be able to sustain the implementation of the master plan when it is ready.
“Our other cry is that we want the ratio to be increased from three per cent to five per cent because at the end of the day, the quantum of amount we are going to look for is far in excess of what the VAT will provide. So, our demand is to see how the ratio can be increased.”
While Mr Alkali sought more funding for the commission, the lead consultant to NEDC on the NESDMP, Mohammed Ahmad, said the commission would require over $9.6billion for the development of the North-east region.
This, according to him, is based on the assessment of the World Bank, European Union and the United Nations on the amount required to fix infrastructural needs of the geopolitical zone as of 2016.
And like his colleague, he said, the budgetary provision will not be sufficient to address the challenges.
“In 2016, the World Bank, European Union and the United Nations did a rapid assessment of infrastructure damage in the North-east and they came out with about $9.6billion of which about $6billion is in Borno State.
“So, even if we come up with this figure today, which was a figure as at 2016, I am not sure we have the internal resources.”
Earlier, the Chairman of the North East Caucus of the National Assembly, Danjuma Goje (APC, Gombe), said the interaction was necessary to enable the caucus to receive a briefing from the commission on its activities, and also allow members of the caucus to make required input.
The session, he said, will give the caucus an opportunity to have first-hand Information from a briefing from the commission since its establishment.
“It would also give us an opportunity to ask questions on all issues pertaining to the activities of the commission and equally enable us to make input on how we feel the commission would perform better for the development of our zone.”
The lawmakers acknowledged the issues raised by officials of the NEDC and promised to intervene where necessary.
Recall that the NEDC was established in October 2017 with the aim of overseeing federal government’s intervention programmes in the region.