NBA-AGC 2017: Tax Reform Key to Economic Reform – Nika Gilauri

Former Georgia Prime Minister Nika Gilauri

Former Georgia Prime Minister Nika Gilauri has urged Nigeria to step up Public Private Partnerships (PPP), Tax to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) income and the anti-graft war to reform its economy.

Gilauri said Nigeria had to overshadow her competitors and use “out of the box ideas” to help the reform the President Muhammadu Buhari administration has started.

He spoke in Lagos yesterday at the ongoing 2017 Annual General Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) with the theme ‘African business: Penetrating through institution building.”

Using his country as a model, Gilauri said Georgia, previously ranked 112th worst place in the world to do business, climbed to the eighth best after reforms.

He noted that finding the right formula in measuring performance is pivotal to the economic growth of many countries, such as Nigeria.

On PPP, Gilauri said: “Depending on the right formula, if PPPs are done properly, it can bring about amazing results.

“In Georgia, we did a huge and successful healthcare reform based on PPP, in a small country like Georgia, it was an amazing feat.

“It is hard to get Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in oil rich countries like Nigeria because of the perception of foreign investors who feel that such countries are wealthy.

“For Georgia, we were able to lure investors by saying we were poor and in dire need of funding. Investments were one of the driving forces for the reform in Georgia.”

The former Prime Minister noted that Nigeria’s tax to GDP income rate of one to six percent was “significantly low.”

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He said: “Nigeria needs to increase tax revenues to GDP by simplifying the tax process; this is something that I believe the Nigerian economy can improve because there are a lot of investments to be made in the country.”

Gilauri said if his country which had gained notoriety for corruption was able to become one of the least corrupt in the world, Nigeria could achieve the same feat.

“In 2004, we were the fifth most corrupt country in the world, in 2010 Georgia became the eighth least corrupt country in the world; there is nothing like innate or cultural corruption.

“This transformation happened in five to six years, it was an amazing transformation and we have seen the measures the government of Nigeria is taking to fight corruption,” he said.

The former Prime Minister noted that Georgia’s corruption fight was based on three pillars; outsourcing and privatisation, simplification and attracting new people by giving good salaries.

“We tried outsourcing to get rid of possible corrupt practices, at a stage we even outsourced tax audits.

“Government policies have to be simplified and you have to attract new people as well as give good salaries.

“You cannot expect a civil servant to behave properly if he is not paid properly, so we introduced a performance based bonus system into the Georgian civil service,” he said.

Source: The Nation

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