With the presentation of N1.046 trillion 2018 budget estimates to the Lagos State House of Assembly on Monday, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, is not only set to hit the ground running for the most crucial financial year preceding his reelection, he also prepared to deliver all the ongoing projects across the state by the end of 2018.
Taking a cursory look at the budget yesterday, some financial analysts said 2018 is going to be a promising year for the residents of Lagos if the contents of the budget are strictly followed and implemented by the government.
The budget, tagged: ‘Budget of Progress and Development’ is about N233.12 billion higher than the 2017 budget, which stood at N812.99 billion, thus representing a 28.28 per cent increase making it perhaps the biggest ever since the creation of Lagos State.
Although, the governor noted that the budget proposal marked another basic point of reference in the progressing radical transformations and change that residents have been witnessing in the state since the inception of his administration, the Speaker, Mr. Mudashiru Obasa pledged that the Assembly would ensure it scrutinizes the delivery of the budget.
The Speaker said it was the responsibility of the House to ensure that the budget is deliver to stimulate the economy of the state by focusing on infrastructure development, delivering inclusive growth and prioritizing the welfare of citizens.
He said that there is no gainsaying the fact that the 2018 budget estimate was aimed at continuous infrastructural development to bridge infrastructural gap; transport, security and environmental reforms; capacity building for all civil and public servants, teachers and health workers; completion of housing estates; commencement of health insurance scheme among others.
According to him, “Expectedly, this budget proposal marks another basic point of reference in the progressing radical transformations and change that we have been witnessing in Lagos since the inception of Ambode’s administration.”
While commending the residents for their prompt response to the payment of their taxes, Obasa urged those who are yet to conform to tax obligation to adjust, saying, “Without tax, there will be no Lagos of our dream.”
Referring the recent faceoff between the legislative and the executive arms, the Speaker urged the executive to see all the three arms of government as one as it is obvious that working as a team will ensure prompt service delivery.The Chairman, House Committee on Information and Strategy, Tunde Braimoh commended the executive for its effort in attaining excellence in the 2017 budget.
However, Braimoh promised that the Assembly would do a thorough job before the budget is passed.“Once a performance is over 70 that’s excellent. How many budgets have performed to that extent? If the governor has done 80 percent that is a good one, it has surpassed the budget hitherto. That is a good progression. This budget would be of benefit to everyone in the state irrespective of sex, race, breed, class and religion. It will work for all and sundry. Finance for market men and women, electricity supply are all included. Once you are resident in Lagos this budget has something for you.
“Regarding the passage of the budget, if we are to sign it on January 3, 2018 that means there wont be a thorough job. It has to be thorough so that we don’t fall victim of laziness and mediocrity.”In his comment, the Acting Chairman of the Committee on Budget and Economic Planning, Mr. Rotimi Olowo said the government would focus more on blocking all loopholes in tax collection.
Olowo stressed that a lot of people have either been evading taxes or underpaying taxes unlike what obtains in civilised societies.He added that efforts would be made by the state government in conjunction with the House of Assembly to give the people the dividends of democracy.
Also speaking, the Acting Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Hon. Bisi Yusuff said that budget is not a guess work and that the Lagos State government would realise the budget estimate for the year.
According to Yusuff, who is representing Alimosho Constituency 1, the state has done well in 2017, adding that the government has been able to redefine governance in the state.
“Once you do something good, the people would comply with your directives. Budget is based on empirical research and I can tell you that N1 trillion is not too much for the state government to achieve in a year.
“If people say that are not satisfied with the performance with the government in 2017, even God does not satisfy people, they would still have complaints. I want to say that the state government has been able to do its best to satisfy the people,” he said.
The lawmaker explained that the state government was not able to complete some of the road projects promised across the 20 local governments and 37 Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) due to the constraints of rainfall.
On the focus for the 2018 Budget, Yusuff advised the state government to emphasize on road construction, healthcare and youth development as well as empowerment.