By Kazeem Ugbodaga
The Lagos State Government on Thursday said it generated N432.6 billion in the first half of 2020 despite raging COVID-19.
This represents 81 percent budget performance in the first six month of 2020, said Sam Egube, Commissioner for Budget and Economic Planning at 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 was represented by Lekan Balogun, Special Adviser to the Lagos State Governor, on Economic Matters.
A confident Egube said despite the pandemic, government had been able to re-strategise to conform with the demands of the present realities, saying that that a good government was one which had 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.
According to Egube, 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 was at 81 per cent of state’s initial target.
He explained that while the State’s economy was projected to record a four per cent growth, the COVID-19 pandemic had brought in strains that demanded a contraction in the State’s budget by 21 per cent in response to constriction in economic activities.
Egube stated that review of the budget was necessitated by lower GDP growth, decline in demands for goods and services, and shortfall in revenue generation
According to him, 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 added that experience of lockdown brought the state government to reality of shortcomings in State’s food storage system, which necessitated increase of allocation to Agriculture to N2.8 billion.
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State, in his remark said despite tCOVID-19 crisis, governance never stopped.
He was represented by Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotoso.
He explained that, as soon lockdown was eased, piloting of the state commenced which had led to commissioning of a number of completed projects, while those undergoing execution were set for completion.
Among projects he highlighted that were brought to completion amidst the COVID-19 lockdown included 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.
Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Gboyega Akosile commended the Governor’s press corps for 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 readiness of the Governor to deliver on his campaign promises.
Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) Chairman, Lagos State, 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.”