By Sikiru Olusesi Azeez
Universally, governments, companies, organisations and institutions deploy budgeting to forecast and regulate what they must do to satisfy the people and clients in order to achieve sustainable success. Budgets provide a measure of the financial results a government or company expects from its planned activities. By planning for the future, government officials, chief executives, managers, administrators and others in leadership positions are able to anticipate potential problems and how to avoid them.
In Lagos State, the government places high premium on conscientious and methodical planning. Consequently, in the last 600 days, the Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu administration has not only effectively monitored budget implementation, it has also been able to significantly deliver on its budget performance. It has been the policy of the government to embark on periodic budget review. Repeated monitoring, critical examination and diligent application of the process have impacted positively on budget performance in the state.
Expectations are high that the state’s ¦ 1,163 trillion 2021 budget, christened, ‘Budget of Rekindled Hope’, would accelerate development across the state. This optimism is, perhaps, engendered by the fact that the budget details how the government intends to allocate resources for the restoration of economic stability, just as the state continues to navigate its way out of the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the destructive impact of the recent #EndSARS protest.
A remarkable feature of the budget is the high ratio of capital to recurrent expenditure. About N704 billion, representing 61 per cent of the total budget, is earmarked for capital expenditure. An estimate of N451.75 billion, representing 39 per cent, will go for recurrent expenditure, which includes personnel cost and other staff-related expenses.
This is consistent with the Sanwo-Olu administration’s move to keep the cost of governance low in the face of obvious economic challenges and general inflation occasioned by multiple factors. No doubt, it is the same desire of shrinking overhead costs, in order to free more resources for fixed intensive investments, that informed the proposal to repeal the state’s Payment of Pension Law of 2007, which provides for the payment of pension and entitlements to former governors and their deputies.
Significantly, the 2021 budget was carefully prepared to ensure heavy investment in the development of human capital, with special focus on youth employment and provision of social safety for the young people. It focuses on creating jobs and strengthening security for businesses to flourish.
Food security has a cumulative budget of N22.21 billion, while cumulative budget of N311.43 billion is to be committed to the provision of infrastructure. Also, N97 billion is earmarked for the health sector with N143.66 billion allocated to public education. It needs to be stressed that budgetary allocation to health provides for employment of more health personnel, procurement of more equipment, research, expansion of the existing infrastructure and public health advocacy, especially as it relates to the management of COVID-19. The budget also makes adequate provision for the sustenance of ongoing construction and rehabilitation of public schools.
The completion of some of the ongoing road projects such as the Pen Cinema Bridge, Agege, which is nearing completion, Aradagun-Imeke-Mowo road, to connect Lagos Badagry Expressway in the Badagry axis; Iwaya and St. Finbarr’s roads – Abule-Okuta and Soluyi roads, Agric-Isawo-Arepo, Itamaga-Elepe-Ijede and Oba Sekumade roads, Ishuti road, Igando/Egan/ Ayobo road phase 2 and 3 (i.e. the bridge) , Itokin-Epe road, among other major roads and projects across the state are factored into the 2021 budget.
Also factored into the budget is the reconstruction and upgrade of Igbogbo-Bola Ahmed Tinubu-Igbe road, a strategic road in the Ikorodu axis that provides access to several communities within the axis. The construction of Samuel Ekundayo/Toga Road in Badagry is also captured in the budget. The project, when completed, will serve as an alternative route to a section of the Lagos-Badagry Expressway, from Badagry Roundabout to Limca/Ibereko. The road is also designed to improve community inter connectivity, thereby giving rise to improved socio-economic activities.
Others include, the construction of Ishefun-Camp Davies–Ijon road network in Alimosho Local Government Area, Lagos-Ogun State Boundary roads (LOB) in Alimosho Local Government Area, Lekki Regional road, reconstruction of Lekki-Epe Expressway to mention but a few.
Also, in order to tackle the perennial issue of flooding, construction of the nine kilometres Akinola/Aboru drainage that cuts across three Local Community Development Councils, LCDAs, in the Alimosho area of the state is equally factored into the 2021 budget. The drainage, when completed, will bring to an end needless loss of lives and properties occasioned by flooding in the axis.
No doubt, the contemporary world is ruled by information technology, hence the government has made provision for the building and upgrading of IT infrastructure across the state, e-GIS Land automation system, single billing system and ease of tax payment, levies and other revenue enhancement initiatives.
A core aspect of the initiatives is the deployment of about 2000 intelligent cameras in strategic locations around the state, using technology to enhance security, traffic management and revenue generation. Also factored into the budget is the delivery of 3000km metro broadband fibre infrastructure around the state through PPP initiative. It is aimed at easing the use of internet by the residents.
Over the years, the Lagos State government has demonstrated enough capacity to implement projects. However, in order to ensure total success of the 2021 budget, Lagosians need to be fully involved in its implementation. For instance, they need to speak up whenever they notice any anomaly in the implementation of projects in their localities. The projects in their localities are theirs and are principally meant for their well-being, so they should monitor them to ensure that money being spent is well-spent.
Similarly, existing structures for programme monitoring should be supported with proper evaluation systems, especially where existing ones are weak. It is important, equally, that evaluation provides evidence- based information that is credible, reliable and useful, enabling the timely incorporation of findings, recommendation and lessons learnt into decision making. Perhaps, more significantly, all MDAs in the state need to be more creative in their revenue generation drive by focusing on untapped areas of revenue.
It is, however, important to stress that for the 2021 budget to fulfill the aspirations of both the government and the people, Lagosians must cooperate with the government through the prompt payment of taxes and other levies.
Also, Lagosians are enjoined to shun all acts that could jeopardise peaceful coexistence in the State. This is because no development and growth can be accomplished in a chaotic atmosphere. No matter how much the government projects into the 2021 budget, without the attainment of peace nothing can be achieved. It is, thus, vital that Lagosians shun acts such as cultism, thuggery, flagrant disobedience of traffic rules and other such unruly acts that could deter the progress and development of the state.
Surely, in 2021, working together with the government, we can achieve the ‘Greater Lagos’ of our collective aspiration.
Olusesi is Assistant Director, Public Affairs, Lagos State Ministry of Economic Planning and Budget.
Source: The Nation