Analysts Commend FG’s Projected $2b Annual Revenue From Expatriates’ Employment

About $2 billion in annual income has been identified by analysts as one of the potential benefits from the federal government’s initiative to make expatriates’ employment contribute more to the national purse.

Some other benefits include increase in employment rate and lowering of the quest for foreign exchange.

The planned initiative to bring working expatriates’ community into the new revenue net has become all the more important in view of the declining and unpredictable revenue from oil.

Ministry of Interior, working in concert with the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), together with other stakeholders in government and the private sector, is finetuning the granular details of the policy that would soon come on stream.

The broad consensus among analysts who tried to dissect the policy to apprise stakeholders with what to expect is that the initiative was reasonably creative, consistent with the age-old drive to expand the nation’s income base.

Hon. Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo

Speaking on different platforms on the same subject, the analysts, including Professor Okey Ikechukwu, Mr. Chibuzor Okereke and Professor Abiodun Adeniyi were united in arguing that while the plan of government was legitimate, it should also be concerned about the transparent use of scarce resources.

On AIT’s “Focus Nigeria” programme with Dr Amaechi Anakwe, Prof. Ikechukwu hailed any effort that was designed to increase the employment of Nigerian citizens, especially because expatriates were not required for low-hanging jobs, which could easily be taken up by Nigerians.

He added that “we do not require expatriates for construction, supermarkets, restaurants, and retail because we have more than enough citizens who can handle the sectors.”

Okechuku added, “But if companies wish to have them, they should be welcomed provided they met the cost and contribution. It is trite to say there are skilled Nigerians who do similar jobs given related skills but are not regarded as expatriates.

“The policy would likely put these sets of Nigerians on a level-play field with the expatriates to some extent.”

Mr. Okereke argued in an interview with Arise TV Newsday programme that “if a Nigerian company goes to China and India and sets up a plant, it may have a handful of expatriates at management level, while the remainder will also be local staff members. This is not the same case in Nigeria, where expatriates are more at the top and fewer at the bottom. It is time to reverse the narrative for Nigerians.”

Noting that expatriate and Nigerian salary differences are huge and require a redress, Okereke stressed that with the projected plan, there would be a reduction of expatriates resulting in lowered demand for scarce foreign exchange, especially from the parallel market, eventually reducing pressure on the currency.

Professor Adeniyi noted in his contribution on Global TV that more Nigerians could actually take up the many jobs that the expatriates were doing.

“A perfect example is the banking sector in Nigeria, which is 99% run by citizens.

“All the technology start-ups in Nigeria are also 99% Nigerian entrepreneurs’, harnessing skill sets and knowledge that are always available. So there is no sector which cannot achieve this, including the Oil and Gas, Construction, Manufacturing, Retail Services, etc.”

He added: “Revenue earned by the government can be put to use for the benefit of the Nigerians in many areas ranging from education, production, health and infrastructure, among others.

“Overall, with the initiative, there will be more job opportunities, improved remuneration, more chances for training and skill acquisition, enhancement of the prestige of the Nigerian workers, and reduction of the demand for Foreign Exchange, resulting from the draining salaries of expatriates.

“This scheme and policy should have been implemented years ago, but it is still not too late, though.”