Lagos State recorded 81percent of expected revenue during the first half of this year, which is N432.6billion, despite the scourge of the COVID-19 pandemic on economic activities, the state’s Commissioner for Budget and Economic Planning, Mr. Sam Egube, said yesterday.
By Oziegbe Okoeki
He spoke during the 2019/2020 Annual Press Week Lecture of the Lagos State Governor’s Office Correspondents (LAGOCO). The theme of the lecture was: Rethinking Lagos For the Post COVID-19 Era.’
Represented by the Senior Special Assistant to the Lagos State Governor on Economic Matters, Mr. Lekan Balogun, the Commissioner who said despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the government has been able to re-strategise to meet with the demands of the present realities, stressed that a good government is one which has the ability to respond when crisis arise.
He said: “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, 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, said 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, necessitated by lower GDP growth, decline in demand for goods and services, and shortfall in revenue generation.
Egube said the review in the state’s budgetary plan was done 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.
According to him, 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 2.8 billion.
Egube who stated that there is need for parsimony in government spending, stressed that with the experience of the COVID-19, the state government has created stabilisation fund at one per cent of yearly IGR to provide support during future emergencies.
In his remarks, 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 said were completed during the COVID-19 lockdown include the rolling 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 regards, Akosile assured Lagosians the readiness of the Governor to deliver on his campaign promises.
In his address, the Chairman, Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Lagos, Dr Qasim Akinreti praised the Governor for showing exemplary leadership despite the attendant challenges, saying “Lagos has excel 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.