By Benjamin Omoike
Lagos State Government says it has recorded 81 per cent of projected revenue for the first half of 2020, despite the scourge of the COVID-19 pandemic on economic activities, it has been learnt.
This submission was made by the State’s Commissoner for Budget and Economic Planning, Mr. Sam Egube, at the event of the 2019/2020 Annual Press Conference Week Lecture, of the Lagos State Governor’s Office Correspondents (LAGOCO), with the theme “Rethinking Lagos For the Post COVID-19 Era”.
Egube, who was guest speaker at the event, represented by the Senior Special Assistant to the Lagos State Governor on Economic Matters, Mr. Lekan Balogun, disclosed that the 81 per cent performance of the projected revenue for the period under review was at N432.6 billion.
The Commissioner, who said despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the state government had been able to restrategise to conform with the demands of the present realities, stressed that a good government is one which has the ability to respond when disturbances arise.
“Lagos State Economy remains the largest and arguably the fastest growing economy in Nigeria. The State’s economy was projected to grow at four per cent prior to COVID-19. However, the COVID-19 has affected the possibilities of achieving such prosperous target.
“Having looked at the half of the year budget performance, it showed that despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the total revenue recorded in performance is at 81 per cent of our initial target.”
He, however, mentioned that while the state’s economy was projected to record a four per cent growth, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought in strains that demanded a contraction in the state’s budget by 21 per cent, in response to constriction in economic activities.
According to him, the review of the budget was, among others, necessited by lower GDP growth, decline in demands for good and services, and shortfall in revenue generation
Egube mentioned that the review in the state’s budgetary plan was effected to maintain a strong response to the effects of the pandemic on food, ensure job creation, economic stability and economic reforms for ease-of-doing business.
He mentioned that the experience of the lockdown brought the State Government to the reality of the shortcomings in the state’s food storage system, which necessitated the increase of the allocation to Agriculture to N2.8 billion.
Egube, who stated the need for parsimony in government spending, stressed that with the experience of the COVID-19, the State Government has introduced a creation of stabilisation fund at one per cent of yearly IGR, to provide support during future emergencies.
In his remark, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who was represented by the State’s Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Gbenga Omotoso, said despite the COVID-19 crisis, “governance never stopped.”
According to him, as soon as the lockdown was eased, the piloting of the state commenced, which has led to the commissioning of a number of completed projects, while those undergoing execution are set for completion.
Among the projects he highlighted that were brought to completion amidst the COVID-19 lockdown include: The rolling out of new buses for ease of transportation; launching new boats and channel-routes for waterways; commissioning of new health facilities; housing schemes, among others.
In his goodwill message, the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr Gboyega Akosile, appreciated the members of the Governor’s Press Corps for the support given to Sanwo-Olu’s administration, in terms of publicity of government programmes.
While urging the journalists to continue in that regard, Akosile assured Lagosians of the readiness of the Governor to deliver on his campaign promises.
In his address, Chairman of Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Dr Qasim Akinreti, praised the Governor for showing exemplary leadership, despite the attendant challenges, saying “Lagos has excelled very well to redefine the way we do things.
“It is on record that when COVID-19 came, the Governor stood up to be counted and responded appropriately. Lagos has become a reference point, other governors have come to borrow a leaf from Lagos State,” Akinreti said.