Lagos State Government has taken another giant leap with a record cumulative mid-year budget performance of 86percent, despite a big drop in its receipt from federal transfer.
The state, which budgeted N489.69 billion for 2014 achieved 76 percent in the first quarter and 106 percent in the second quarter leading to a cumulative score of 86 percent, a performance which an elated Governor Babatunde Fashola (SAN) attributed to prudent economic performance and financial discipline.
Speaking to state house correspondents at the Lagos House, Ikeja after the budget review session, he said the performance which is coming in a pre-election year in unprecedented and is consistent with the commitment that he made and continues to reiterate that until the last day, the present government will be working to deliver service.
He explained that the impact of that performance could be seen in some of the housing projects that the administration had concluded and some of the roads it handed over in the second quarter in places like the Yaya Abatan, College Road and the adjoining network of about seven roads and places like Langbasa.
“So that is the physical connection to the numbers that you are seeing and the housing projects particularly and a lot of drainage work and construction that we accelerated in the second quarter preparatory to the commencement of rain.
“There is still work to do, there is so many places where there is still attention needed and many projects also coming to completion, many have been completed, many would be completed again in the third quarter and so people will get relief just as we continue. You will never finish this work”, he reiterated.
Fashola noted that the revenue to the state from the federal purse has diminished over the last 14 months, adding that what the state used to have before was on an average, a sum of N9 billion or N10 billion which has now dropped to about N7 to 8 billion monthly.
“The reality therefore is that by the time you pay salaries which now average about N6.5 billion monthly from N7 to N8 billion, you are left with barely one and half billion Naira and by the time you pay subvention, it is almost exhausted”, he said
He explained that the state has been living on its Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) and that some of the things that it used to do and finance with income from the federal allocation are now being financed by IGR because there is a gap that has crystallized and some states regrettably are now borrowing money even to get things going.
“So it was a good thing that this state conceived the idea many years ago to take its own destiny into its hands, to get people to contribute and as I say, if it is a Commonwealth, it must be built by common contributions and that is what our taxes have done for us”.
“So when you talk about free health today, you are talking about free education and you are talking about roads, bridges and drainages, 70percent of what we have spent on governing Lagos has come from a common contribution, peoples’ income, so people who come now and say don’t pay tax, they don’t like you, they are the real enemies of the people”, he reiterated.
He affirmed that if the people stop paying tax, it only means that Lagos State will go cap in hand every month to go and collect N7 billion and the big dream of people that are still asking for roads then, may not be achievable by the government.
The Governor added: “So it is deception, it is untrue; no economy across the world has developed without payment of taxes and contribution because that is also what brings the participation in democracy. If your money is in it, your commitment would be stronger”.
Whilst also giving additional details about the performance of the budget, the state Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget, Mr Ben Akabueze reiterated the necessity for the people to just keep supporting the administration with more revenues.
“If you look at our overall IGR performance for the first half of the year, it was 86 percent while the overall budget performance for the first half of the year was also 86 percent, so you see the strong correlation between our IGR and how well our budget performs”, he explained.
He added that a closer look at the performance would also reveal that during the first half of this year, the budget performed much better than the previous year in terms of the completion of ongoing capital projects.
He gave a firm commitment that for the rest of the year, completion of ongoing projects would remain the focus with the delivering of more of the roads that have been in progress and over 200 of such roads currently under construction simultaneously.
Akabueze said the people will begin to see more and more of such roads being completed, maintaining that the budget performance is trending in the right direction.
Among those who joined the Governor at the briefing were the state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Lateef Ibirogba and Special Adviser on Information and Strategy, Mr Lateef Raji.