The Nigeria Immigration Service has dropped its projected passport revenue from N27.18bn for 2021 to N1.03bn for 2022, an analysis of the proposed budgets of government-owned enterprises has shown.
While N24.43bn was proposed as passport revenue, N2.75bn was proposed as e-pass revenue for 2021. For 2022, N1.03bn was proposed as passport revenue, and N201.81m was proposed as e-pass revenue.
In total, the NIS decreased its projected revenue from the issuance of passport and e-pass by N26.15bn. This represents about 96.2 per cent decrease in the projected revenue.
This is despite the tight revenue crunch the country seems to be battling with, which has led to an increasing debt profile.
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, had on several occasions said the country had a revenue problem and not a debt problem.
Various economic experts have urged the government to find ways to boost its revenue base and not depend on borrowings, with the increasing debt stock of the country.
Nigeria currently struggles with an economic crisis brought upon by the fall in oil prices and the COVID-19 pandemic, which has led to deteriorating revenue, increasing unemployment, inflation and poverty.
The PUNCH had reported that the budget deficit had risen to N20.64tn under the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), from 2016 to 2020, with more than N7.97tn borrowed from foreign and domestic sources to fund the deficit.
The Federal Government plans to borrow more to finance N6.26tn deficit in its proposed 2022 budget.The government plans to borrow N5.01tn, while the rest of the deficit will be financed by multilateral and bilateral loan drawdown and privatisation proceeds.
While the projected passport revenue dropped, there was an increase in the expenditure budget from the N69.11bn approved in 2021 to N75.32bn in the proposed 2022 budget.
This shows an increase of 6.21bn or 8.6 per cent. Reacting to this, the NIS Public Relations Officer, James Okpo, said certain factors such as the validity period of passports and the possibility of people going for more long-term passports.
He said, “Two things are important here. The enhanced passport project is a public-private partnership. So, it’s not essentially the way you are looking at it.
“Number two, the enhanced passport is coming in 10 years. So, if I get a 10-year valid passport, you shouldn’t expect me to come back anytime soon.
“So, we can take a bearing from that. Most people are coming for a longer duration passport. That is the essence of the enhancement. It has a longer duration.
“Moreover, it is just a proposal. It’s just a projection. I understand your concerns. That does not mean it will turn out this way at the end of the year. It’s not cast in iron.
“The Diaspora population would prefer a longer duration passport. So, we opened the enhanced passport facility in London last week. And we are opening more locations such as that in other missions abroad during the year.”
However, a number of issues had plagued the process of NIN issuance this year. For instance, the NIS had attributed the delay in processing international travel documents to challenges of epileptic power supply and non-validation of names supplied by applicants in their National Identity Number.