Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola SAN (middle) with Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Ayo Gbeleyi (3rd left) and Secretary to the State Government, Dr. (Mrs.) Oluranti Olubule (left) during the Y2014 1st Quarter Budget performance appraisal at the Banquet Hall, Ikeja, Lagos on Tuesday, April 29, 2014.
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), Tuesday, 29th April, 2014, announced a first quarter performance of 67 percent for the 2014 Budget representing an increase of six percent above the performance of the first quarter of last year which stood at 61 percent.
Fielding questions from journalists after the review meeting at the Lagos House, Alausa, Governor Fashola said the increase over the previous year was an indication of what would happen this year adding, “We should expect a better overall performance beyond last year’s 85 percent at the end of the year”.
Attributing the marginal improvement in performance to “so many dynamics”, the Governor, however, said, “I think that the fact that we can even improve on our performance against this period last year is still typical and defines the character of this Government and confirms our commitment to the good people of Lagos”.
Reporting on what would be the focus of the administration as it gradually winds up, Governor Fashola said the infrastructure regeneration work around the State would be sustained adding that the general deficit in infrastructure would take some time to optimally address. This, he said, is due to the fact that as Government continues to provide infrastructure the population would continue to grow adding, “We do not provide infrastructure in a vacuum. We have not had population in deficit.
“We provide infrastructure for people and as we provide, the population continues to increase. Even now we are trying to catch up with the deficit population has not slowed down”, the Governor said adding that it is quite a battle to match the growing population”.
Pointing out that deficits would continue to occur as long as the population continues to grow, Governor Fashola who listed such infrastructure to include classrooms, roads, ferry terminals and so on, told the journalists, “You will also understand that the built infrastructure depreciate as new ones are being built.
“So as you build, you maintain them, you change them; so some of the roads we are rebuilding today were built 30 to 40 years ago” the Governor said adding that it is an on-going thing which every city state continues to undertake.
“It is an on-going thing; every nation, every city state must continue to undertake this. Most of the roads in the United Kingdom are broken. I was there last weekend to speak at a conference. I could see most of their roads broken up from bad Winter. So you will see a lot of constructions will start right through the end of Spring into Summer”.
According to him, “The work will never finish. People demand change; they need infrastructure for example to drive the new communications platform – your androids, iphones and all of that. So even the needs are changing, designs have to change and that is why we have to open up access to Right of Ways for telecoms and internet service providers”.
On sources of revenue available to undertake the huge task of sustained infrastructure development, the Governor said they come from different sources including internally generated revenue and allocations from the Federation Account noting, however, that Statutory Allocations since last year to this year has dropped by about 25 percent adding that things have not been the way they used to be.
In terms of the responsiveness of Lagosians to their tax obligations, Governor Fashola said the issue was not whether enough has been paid but what the people of Lagos want. “What services do they want”, he said.
“First of all, it is important to acknowledge and salute them for the choices they have made, taxpayers really have defined this Government and its ability to provide service. They have taken their own destiny in their hands and they can see the results for it”, he said.
Recalling a comment by a commuter on the on-going Mile 12-Ikorodu Road expansion who said though the project was welcome but that the people of the axis now needed train services, Governor Fashola declared, “If that is what they want then we must pay for it. But it tells me and my team the belief about the capacity of this government. You do not ask a Government that cannot do it.
“They have put their money where their mouth is that is why our State is progressing and prospering and receiving all of the local and global acknowledgements and greetings and accreditation. We can only get better”.
Also fielding questions from journalists, the state Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget, Mr. Ben Akabueze, explained that first quarter performances are typically low due to the fact that between the times budgets get signed into law, a lot of intervening dynamics take place adding, however, that the administration would do a lot of catching up this quarter.
“Again, our budget for this year does not envisage deficit financing. It means that more than in the last several years, the budget this year is very sensitive to how much revenue that we generate”, the Commissioner said adding that the real heroes of whatever achievement would be made this year would be taxpayers.
Noting that government has demonstrated the capacity to deliver if empowered, the Commissioner appealed to Lagosians to pay their taxes as and when due in order to see more services and development in the State.
The post-quarterly budget review media interaction also had in attendance the Chief of Staff to the Governor, Mr. Lanre Babalola; and the state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Aderemi Ibirogba.