The Minister of Information, Tourism and Culture, Lai Mohammed, says the federal government plans to build cinemas across Nigeria to further diversify the economy.
He said the new project to be undertaken through a public-private partnership will increase revenue to government from the creative industry.
Mr. Mohammed said this on Tuesday after appearing before the Senate Committee on Culture and Tourism to defend the 2018 budget of his ministry.
The Minister said that the creative industry has witnessed a remarkable improvement due to the enabling environment created by the Muhammadu Buhari-led government.
“The industry is on a tripod; the government, private sector and the practitioners. And what this government has done is to give the support that this industry needs.
“For instance, sometimes this year, the federal government included the creative industry in list of industries that will enjoy what is called pioneer status. It means if you invest in this industry to a certain amount of money, then you are entitled to tax holiday for an initial ten years and another two years. In addition, dividends from your businesses will be exempted from taxation. This is one of the incentives this government has given to the creative industry.
“We also met the Inspector General of Police to express our concerns on the rate of piracy and the IGP immediately set up an anti-piracy unit in each command of the federation after which we met with the CBN governor asking for an intervention fund to the tune of 100 million to enable people in the industry to invest in infrastructure.
He said the planned cinemas in every part of the country will be in partnership with foreign investors.
“As I speak to you today, we are talking to some investors who are ready to bring in $20 million to enable the industry, especially the film industry, to have cinema houses all over the country. Everywhere in the world, it is always a partnership of the public and private sector.”
Mr. Mohammed dismissed insinuations that the government is deliberately withholding funds which are supposed to go for public use.
“It’s not that the government is deliberately withholding releases, it’s that when you make a budget, we make a budget on certain assumptions. That I’m going to sell a barrel of crude for $60 dollars for instance and I’m going to produce one million barrels for instance. If the price of crude goes beyond $60 or due to some difficulties you are not able to produce one million barrels, it is going to affect your receipt.
“So if you budget that I’m going to collect 10 billion from customs duties and either because of the economic situation, not many people are bringing in goods from abroad, you are going to collect less. So, if we say that government have not released fund, it’s not as if they are deliberately starving us, it’s because the reality is that we don’t have enough.”
In the 2017 budget performance analysis, the ministry received N1, 000, 000, 000, 55% of the N1, 812, 551, 260 appropriated.
Of this fund, N3, 186, 310, 740 was expended on personnel allocation while N328, 877, 725, was utilised for overhead allocation.
In 2017, the culture sector of the ministry generated N500, 000 which has been remitted to the Consolidated Revenue Fund Account, CRF.