Mr Stuart Symington, United States Ambassador to Nigeria, has attributed poor social infrastructure development in Nigeria to the weak system of tax collection in the Country.
Symington has made this known on Tuesday, while speaking at the 10th anniversary colloquium of the Nigerian Development Finance Forum, organised by Financial Nigeria Magazine in Abuja.
He said: “One proximate cause of poor health, education and nutrition standards is low public expenditures. This in turn is related to very low public revenues due in fact to low tax rates and weak systems for tax collections.
“Low social spending is also as a result of transfers from government to petroleum and power sectors because fuel and electricity tariffs are below cost recovery levels.
“Fiscal, trade and other micro-economic policies tend to act as breaks on private sector initiatives on economic growth. Weak governance due to inadequate capacities or lacks of checks and balances also slows social and economic development.”
In his remarks, the former Minister of State for Health, Dr Muhammed Pate, “After extracting almost a trillion dollars’ worth of oil since our national independence, we have a situation where poverty is going on.
“We have effectively squandered an opportunity to utilise the natural resources that we obtain purely by chance, not by hard work.
“Instead of investing to uplift our people’s lives, our political elites by commission or omission chose the path of short-term comfort and purchase of loyalty through economically unwise or corruption riddled national expenditure at the expense of economically sound investments in both human and physical aspects to transform our nations.
“Nigeria’s demographic transition is slow, variable and achieving the dividend from the population is not guaranteed. Childhood development is going in the wrong direction particularly in northern Nigeria.
“Some areas in the security challenged north east, stunting is more than 60 per cent among children under-five while over more than 40 per cent of Nigeria’s children under-five are stunted.”