Story from Kenneth AFOR, Lagos
Sequel to a recent publication by BudgIT, a civic advocacy group which states that Lagos was among states with a recurrent deficit and, borrowing to pay salaries, the Lagos State Commissioner for Finance, Dr Rabiu Olowo has debunked the claim saying that the state is financially and economically stable.
Dr Olowo made this known on Monday on the state’s official website.
However, BudgIT, on Thursday has retracted its claim issuing an apology to the state through a tweet.
“Indeed, @followlasg (Lagos State Government) cannot be included in the category of States with a recurrent deficit; thus, not borrowing to pay salaries.
“We also apologise for including a special debt financing program as part of the recurrent expenditure which might be a total representation of its finances.”
“Lagos State remains way ahead of many of its peers in terms of fiscal health and the capacity to generate revenue internally, and it also has the least dependency on federally collected revenue distributed through FAAC allocations,” the group stated.
Meanwhile, Dr Olowo argued that the data obtained by BudgIT stating Lagos is running on N89 billion deficit ought to have been a surplus of the stated figure, adding that BudgIT publication on the state’s financial strength is inaccurate.
“Lagos State continues to meet all its recurrent and loan service obligations and the information that was published in incorrect, inaccurate and a gross distortion of the actual facts.
“The accurate information that ought to have been stated in the table published by BudgIT is provided below; as extracted from Lagos State’s published 2019 Audited Financial Statements:
“Total Revenue N644,762,788,340.04, Recurrent Expenditure and Loan Repayment Obligation N554,241,725,038.00 and Surplus or Deficit N90,521,063,302.04.
“As indicated in Lagos State’s published Financial Statements and as extracted above, the information in the table published by BudgIT should have correctly indicated a surplus of N89 billion (Eighty-Nine Billion Naira),” said Dr Olowo.
The commissioner assures that the state would continue to explore other options in terms of ways in funding the state’s services adding that Lagos is the only state in the country that does rely on the monthly federal government allocation.
Olowo further said that the state government in 2019 has drastically reviewed its internal loan structure facilities from 20 per cent per annum to currently 14 per cent per annum.
“Lagos State Government continues to efficiently explore options in both the Financial and Capital Markets, to extract optimal funding solutions, which will enhance the administration’s ability to deliver on the construction, renewal and improvement of the deficit in social and physical infrastructure for the benefit of Lagosians; who represent 10 per cent of Nigeria’s population.
“Lagos is the only state that is not reliant on the allocation from the Federal Account Allocation Committee, with Internally Generated Revenues representing circa 72 per cent of the State’s aggregate revenues to enable it to address challenges faced by megacities world over.
“As at August 2020, Lagos State’s Internal Revenue Service is doing 103 per cent above budget, and well above 2019 figures, despite the COVID-19 pandemic which demonstrates the financial resilience of the Babajide Sanwo-Olu administration for a Greater Lagos.
“In the year under review 2019, Lagos State restructured all existing internal loan facilities to 14 per cent per annum, from between 18 per cent and 20 per cent per annum. These rates have even more recently been re-negotiated to circa 12 per cent per annum.
“Lagos State is economically and financially viable and the Government of Lagos State continues to expand funding sources whilst also ensuring that prudence and sustainability are at the fore of all funding and expenditure decisions, said the commissioner.