By Funke Cole
For Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, making Lagos State a 21st century economy has left the realm of just a mere dream but now a reality of some sorts.
This is self-evident in the magnificent structures from the super highways, well-planned road networks, low cost housing estates, springing up of food basket zones in eco-friendly settings, and several other social amenities such as the Lagos rail transit projects that dot the landscape.
With the benefit of hindsight, when the governor took the oath of office during his first term, his template of performance was encapsulated in the THEME agenda and interestingly a number of turnkey projects enumerated above, were embarked upon with majority of them completed.
With his second term safely in the kitty, the governor in keeping with his mandate to the people also chose the THEMES+ agenda convinced in his heart of heart that this would further help him to consolidate on his achievements thus far.
Of course, the task of making Lagos a city centre that would be the envy of the rest of the globe is not mincemeat and thus would require enormous resources to do that.
This is why in keeping faith with fidelity to the people, Governor Sanwo-Olu signed the N2.267 trillion 2024 Appropriation Bill of Lagos State into law, thus marking the start of a new expenditure cycle.
The size of the budget, which is clearly a reflection of how far the state government wants to go in terms of making Lagos state a 21st century economy, further shows the governor’s determined will to galvanise the state for socioeconomic growth and development.
In the 2024 fiscal year, Economic Affairs took a chunk of the budget proposal with N539 billion compared to the N482.86 billion expended on the same line item last year.
Of the total budget, 58 per cent goes to capital expenditure, while 42 per cent is for recurrent spending. The additional allocation of N21.74 billion, approved by the Assembly, aims to complete key infrastructure and address priority areas.
As the governor himself acknowledged, the successful implementation of this budget is crucial for the citizens’ wellbeing and aligns with the THEMES+ agenda, aiming to transform lives and businesses.
Interestingly, as a forward-looking government, Governor Sanwo-Olu envisions a situation in the not-too-distant future when the state revenue target would be in the region of N7trillion and above.
Though it may seem ambitious but this is indeed doable given the fact that the current revenue projection of N2.267 trillion is almost 10 percent of the nation’s 2024 fiscal budget, a feat which placed the state shoulder high above many African countries and ranked her as the 8th largest economy in Africa!
This feat laudable as it is requires a lot of determined will to sustained, a fact the governor himself acknowledges very well which is why during a meeting with the Presidential Tax Reforms Committee led by Taiwo Oyedele, he informed that the state remains committed to practical reforms that would enhance revenue generation and fiscal sustainability by constantly identifying and eliminating bottlenecks hindering Lagos’ full revenue potential.
To achieve this, the governor holds the view that collaboration is key to actualise such monumental changes in the state government’s revenue projection.
“We’re pushing for a transformational shift not just in revenue generation but also in quality spending. Together, we aim to address revenue challenges and ensure efficient utilisation of generated income,” assured elated Governor Sanwo-Olu at the meeting.
Whether in the area of food security, housing and support for small businesses, the Governor Sanwo-Olu has left no one in doubt about his conviction to set the state on a fast-paced growth trajectory in the coming months.
More importantly, the job creation drive of the state government in the 2024 fiscal year will see many small businesses getting a new lease of life.
Already, through the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF), more than 12,000 Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) have accessed over N8.4 billion in loans. The governor has assured that the MSMEs and startups in the state would remain one of its priorities for 2024 as part of efforts to scale up Ease of Doing Business reform work.
In connection with this, the state government which is ever ready to share in the burdens of the masses, has assured that it is willing to redouble its commitment to ensuring that all obstacles and encumbrances around permits, licenses, regulation, and the tax regime, are addressed frontally.
For a government strong on performance, the governor has also assured that this budget circle will not be an exception as it will deliver on its promises as well as help to improve outcomes in terms of its policy implementation matrices.
Indeed, with Governor Sanwo-Olu’s renewed zest and vigour to deliver the much sought-after dividends of democracy for all, irrespective of stations and creed in his quest to birth Greater Lagos, Lagosians can afford to sit back and relax to enjoy a sleek ride!
| Cole a public commentator writes from Lagos