By Bassey Udo
The Federal Government is giving priority to fiscal policies and reforms in key sectors to ensure short and medium term relief and economic sustainability, Minister of Finance and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, has said.
The Minister stated this in her goodwill message to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) International Day Commemorative event on the theme, ‘Gender Equality Today for A Sustainable Tomorrow.’
Considering the challenges posed by the increasing fiscal and domestic revenue constraints, the Minister said the federal government was prioritising fiscal policies and reforms in key sectors to address the longstanding challenge of domestic revenue mobilisation.
She said the government was prioritising work towards improving internally generated revenue, blocking tax leakages, creating new tax sources, and promoting effective tax collection.
This, she noted, was being achieved in part through continued implementation of the Strategic Revenue Generation Initiative (SRGI), and continued incremental fiscal reforms through the introduction of annual Finance Bills, as well as reducing administrative inefficiencies and lowering the overall cost of governance.
Through the implementation of the annual Finance Acts, Ahmed said the government was providing tax relief and other support to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), many of which are women-owned.
She acknowledged the economic and social empowerment of women and girls as critical to the country’s collective vision of a prosperous and resilient Nigeria.
If we are to have a stronger and more inclusive economy, the Minister said it was crucial that the country took a long term and strategic approach to ensuring that women are economically empowered.
“We must continue to work towards the development and implementation of policies, regulatory frameworks, and programmes that are inclusive and gender-sensitive; and we must remove the socio-economic and cultural barriers that prevent women from participating fully in society and from reaping the economic benefits of their participation,” she said.
Ahmed said that funding and gender sensitive fiscal policies were critical, as were credible disaggregated data and impact monitoring and evaluation.
Also, she said the recently finalised medium term National Development Plan (NDP) was developed with a gender lens, as would be the long term NDP currently being finalised.
Interventions to promote women inclusion in national development, the Minister said, include gender responsive budgeting, and assessments of the gender responsiveness of key fiscal interventions, like fiscal stimulus packages with specific commitments aimed at improving the safety, livelihoods, and economic status of women and girls.
Apart from formally introducing a gender lens for national budgets, she said an express provision was made in the 2022 Budget Call Circular mandating the use of gender responsive budgeting in the preparation of the national budget.
The country, the Minister said, was developing an Integrated National Financing Framework (INFF) to strengthen the planning processes, and strategically identify and mobilise the resources required to finance the most recent medium and long term development plans.
“We are committed to ensuring that the INFF is gender responsive, in line with overall government commitments around gender responsive national development planning and financing.
“Women’s social and economic empowerment remains critical to ensuring inclusive, resilient, and sustainable development in Nigeria, and to achieving a shared goals as a nation.
“By empowering women and girls, and promoting their full participation in society, particularly in leadership and decision-making roles, we will be ensuring improved economic development outcomes for all,” she said.