By Rukayat Moisemhe
Lagos, Aug 4, 2020 The Lagos State Government says it is engaging a holistic approach to restarting the state’s economy and re-imagining its operations toward surviving the COVID-19 pandemic in its year 2021 budget.
Mr Samuel Egube, the State Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget, made this known at the 2021 Budget Consultative Forum on Tuesday in Lagos.
Egube said that in order to minimise the effect of the pandemic, the state government had implemented interventions along the line of aggressive healthcare responses, business support, sustainability measures and relief to the poor.
“The state government has increased commitment to Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises MSMEs to help them during and post COVID-19.
“We intend to adopt consolidation and tactical redirection to areas that would help employment, food production and security, particularly to overcome the effects of COVID-19.
“We are going to flag off our internship programme by the Ministry of Wealth.
“The idea is to get people to work, and the state government will pay them, while working for SMEs to gather experience and tackle unemployment,” the commissioner said.
He said that for half of the year 2020, the state recorded a budget performance of 57 per cent (N334. 838bn), which was in absolute terms higher than the 73 per cent (N316.676bn) for the same period of 2019.
“The COVID-19 pandemic with its resultant health and economic impacts greatly affected the state, like other geographies around the world and changed the context within which we execute development agenda.
“Within this very difficult context, LASG was able to achieve greater revenues, while managing expenditure with revenue stronger by six per cent against the approved budget.
“In view of the dwindling revenue of the State’s Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) due to the pandemic, LASG is committed to growing the state’s IGR to sustain its developmental projects.
“We will continue to minimise wastage through tighter expenditure controls and promote prudent spending.
“Plans to invest in comparative advantage areas such as aquaculture for quick wins was underway,” he said.
For the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), the commissioner said that the state was providing wage subsidies based on maintaining payroll and enhancing the access of SMEs to short term funding through the State Empowerment Trust Fund.
He added that the state also focussed on agriculture as plans to finish the Rice Mill at Imota and undertake a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) concession afterwards was underway.
“Rice Mill at Imota is expected to employ 300, 000 people and is at 75 per cent completion.
“It is expected to produce 120, 000 Metric Tonnes annually, and increase local rice production by 75 per cent.
“Efforts are also ongoing to train rice farmers on the right variety of rice to produce to feed the mill,” he said.
The commissioner said that continued efforts to digitise the state were ongoing.
On the economic outlook for year 2020, he said that forecasts suggest 2020 GDP growth would be severely impacted followed by a sharp rebound of 3.5 per cent.
Earlier, Mr Adebayo Sodade, Special Adviser on Economic Planning and Budget, said the forum was an avenue to update the stakeholders on the half year performance of the budget.
Sodade said it also brought to general knowledge the resources available for the next budget, taking into cognisance all economic variables and externalities such as crude oil prices, inflation, interest rates and the effect of COVID-19 on the economy.
“Rubbing minds with you also provides us an ample opportunity to share ideas geared toward the greater Lagos project, while ensuring that your desired interests are adequately captured in the development agenda,” he said.
Sodade urged citizens to fulfil their civic responsibilities through regular payment of taxes, monitoring of government projects and reporting observed lapses.
He also called for the protection of public facilities and infrastructure, obedience to traffic and safety rules and regulations, ensuring environmental friendliness and security consciousness for a greater Lagos.
The special adviser said government had planned to improve revenue and overall service delivery by widening the tax base to meet citizens’ expectations