Microsoft founder, Bill Gates has decried Nigeria’s low domestic revenue, describing it as one of the lowest in the world at just six per cent of GDP compared to 15 per cent in some other countries.
According to the American philanthropist, this may be one of the reasons why the largest black nation has a problem with providing basic health infrastructure.
Gates stated this via a teleconference with select journalists ahead of the release of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Goalkeepers report 2019.
Speaking on how Nigeria can address some of its challenges, Gates said: “One challenge that Nigeria has is that the amount of money that the government raises domestically is quite small compared to other countries.
“A lot of countries at that level will be raising closer to 15 per cent of GDP and Nigeria is one of the lowest in the world down at about six per cent. And so, it is a huge challenge that when you want to fund infrastructure, health, education, all those things, that over time the tax collection, the domestic resources are going to have to go up quite a bit.”
According to him, the government also needed to do more to gain the confidence of the people because the citizens could be discouraged from paying taxes if they see that taxes are not being properly utilised.
He added: “That’s a long-term effort and I think partly by making sure the current resources are spent well like on primary health care, you gain the credibility that the citizens will say, okay, we want more of these things. If we don’t raise the quality, you can get into a trap where they don’t feel like paying the taxes actually has that much impact, and so they’re not supportive of that.”
Gates lamented that many countries that were not as wealthy as Nigeria had better health care systems.
“If I had one wish for Nigeria, it would be that the quality and funding of the primary health care system would achieve the level of some other countries that are lower income but have done a better job with the primary health care system. So, it definitely is doable,” he said.
He further said that the country had virtually defeated polio and that his foundation would look at strengthening health care centres, adding that his foundation had been collaborating with Aliko Dangote in helping Nigeria to address some of its challenges.