Statistician General of the Federation (SGF) and Chief Executive of National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Yemi Kale, has blamed rising income inequality in the country for being responsible for its high poverty rate, saying that as at 2010, the poverty rate was 62.6 per cent.
Speaking at the Annual Public Lecture of the Department of Economics, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Lagos, Kale said that the distribution of Nigeria’s wealth has grown increasingly unequal resulting in a situation where the top 30 per cent of income earners accounted for 58 per cent of consumption in 2016, compared to 55 per cent in 2004.
“At the national level as well, Gini coefficient rose from 0.36 to 0.39 between 2004 and 2016. It should be noted, however, that this is not necessarily a bad situation, nor is it unexpected in a rapidly-expanding economy as we saw over the last decade or so. What has been unfortunate is the inability to achieve growth that is more inclusive and job-creating. Without sufficient job creation, the unemployment rate will continue to rise, and a faster rise in unemployment means anti-social and deviant behaviours will become more prevalent, raising the prospect of social conflict. This is already happening. On the other hand, growth can be positively harnessed to promote human and economic development through the instrumentality of a well-designed and effective tax system.
“The goal of such a system is to ensure that public resources used up in the production process are compensated for, and (re-)deployed effectively and efficiently in providing future public services. The absence of such a system, either because it is inefficient in collection, or ineffective in deployment would respectively translate to significant untaxed economic activities, or inadequate domestic resource mobilisation to finance public service delivery. Under this situation, therefore, while growth can be accelerating, it needs to be complemented with a robust tax administration system in order to ensure that such growth translates to meaningful socio-economic and human development. In other words, we can have growth without development, but rarely can we have development without growth.
Policies that promote growth and business expansion should, therefore, be encouraged not stifled. At the moment, Nigeria still has one of the lowest tax-to-GDP ratios and greater efforts is required to boost domestic revenue as well as diversify revenue.” he said.
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