By Chris Onuoha
Financial experts say the N1.3 trillion budget of Lagos State government for 2022 has capacity to turn around the fortunes of the state.
At the presentation of the Appropriation Bill titled ‘Budget of Consolidation’, last week, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu said it would focus “obsessively on completing ongoing projects, while also expanding our social intervention programs and support for citizens, and for micro and small businesses.”
He added that in the outgoing year, Lagosians could testify to the improved standard of infrastructure delivered by his administration throughout the 377 wards across Lagos, which aligned with the state’s mission to eradicate poverty and promote economic growth through infrastructural renewal and development.
In separate interviews, Samuel Eguge, Lagos State Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget, and an economic expert, Dr. Boniface Chizea, lauded the allocation of over N823billion (59 per cent) to capital expenditure, especially Infrastructure, Education, Security And Agriculture, stating that this is coming at period when recurrent expenditure takes the bulk of Federal Government’s budget.
In particular, Chizea, who is the Chief Executive Officer of BIC Consultancy Services, said: “The fact that about 59 per cent of the budget goes to capital expenditure, while 41 per cent (N564billion) would be expended on recurrent expenditure at a period when even the Federal Government is doing about 30 per cent on capital expenditure is an electrifying development.
“The development is very interesting because it will promote employment and address other social needs. “We are not saying that paying salaries is not important but allocating such huge sum to capital expenditure like Works and Infrastructure, Transportation and Commerce and Industry will cascade down to the people and transform their standards of living.
“In fact, once a state crosses 50 per cent in capital allocation, which not too many states are doing, such state should be commended. “Not many states have done so well in that regard. I can’t remember. The fact that a sizable percentage is given to education is also gratifying, though it is still below the UNESCO’s 25 per cent recommendation, but when compared to the fact that we do about five per cent at the national level, it is not a bad one in the state.
“The fact that education and health are accorded their rightful places is gratifying, because, as they say, health is wealth.
“I am aware that such budget will also include payment of salaries, but when the budget is tilted towards the people, it shows government’s sensitivity to the needs of the people, especially now that we are coming out of the pandemic when a lot of people have fallen into the poverty bracket”.
Continuing, Chizea noted: “We are no talking about a situation where about 100 million are poor, and a percentage of Lagos State’s 22 million people is also involved.
“So, if that is the case, anything the state can do reflating the economy will assist the people.
“When a government is doing its budget and it has an environment with high poverty level as this, then a budget that is pro-poor (people), and concentrates on education and health like this one is the best way to go.”
On whether the people will feel the impact, he said: “Well, it will cascade down. Now, we are not surprised by the share huge size of the budget because Lagos is a mini country, and the financial capital of Nigeria. Abuja is administrative capital.
“You will recall that some years back, everything was in Lagos and it is still in Lagos. “We have done well in Abuja, but when you talk about the economy, you are talking about Lagos.
“Though oil companies were some time ago asked to move their headquarters to their operational base, you will agree that the bulk of their operations are still in Lagos.
“Lagos is the heart of Nigeria, followed by Rivers and Kano. I don’t know which one comes first, but I think it has the largest economy in terms of sea ports, population and market as the governor said about 35 million travel in and out of Lagos State every month.
“So I’m not surprised by the jumbo size of the budget”.
Meanwhile, Lagos State Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget, Eguge, said the Sanwo-Olu administration would consolidate on previous achievements through the 2022 Budget.
The 2022 Appropriation Bill is worth N1,388,285,459,990.51, comprising a total revenue of N1,135,159,092,822.30 and deficit financing of N253,126,367,168.21. The budget estimate is a bit higher than that of 2021 of N1.163 trillion.
Eguge spoke on Arise TV News at the weekend. According to him, the budget projects a continuity in building on the past achievements of the Lagos administration as the state recovers from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
His words, “The Y2022 Budget is aimed at consolidating all our efforts so far into timely delivery of our electoral promises of a Greater Lagos to all citizens and residents of the state. Our destination is now in sight”.
He stated that Lagos people could testify to the improved standard of infrastructure delivered by the Sanwo-Olu administration throughout the 377 wards across the state and this is in tandem with the objective of Governor Sanwo-Olu to eradicate poverty and promote economic growth through infrastructural renewal and development
He revealed that 2022 is a year in which the administration will focus on completing ongoing projects while expanding social intervention programs and support for citizens and micro and small business.