Budget Crisis Looms In Lagos

Source: OUR REPORTER. - thewillnigeria.com
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LAGOS, Oct 05, (THEWILL) - The failure of the Lagos State House of Assembly to pass a supplementary budget of over N46.7 billion has dampened the hope of the full implementation of the 2010 appropriation of the state government.

THEWILL has gathered that as a result some agencies of the state government are finding it tough to defend the supplementary budget they requested as the state lawmakers continue to drill members of the State Executive Council on the need for an additional budget.

The legislature has since last week been patiently scrutinizing the details of the 2010 Supplementary Budget and some of the agencies have failed to impress the lawmakers by failing to justify their request.

The agencies, which are affected, include the ministries of Establishment and Training, Health and the Lagos State Public Works Corporation (PWC).

Executive Chairman of the PWC, Mr. Gbenga Akintola, failed to convince the lawmakers to approve N1bn for his agency with House Speaker, Adeyemi Ikuforiji saying it would be difficult to give anything to the corporation.

The bad state of Lagos State roads and the shocking revelation by Mr. Akintola that the corporation used its 2009 and 2010 budgetary allocations to service its debts and therefore could not embark on any appreciable road maintenance soiled Akintola’s presentation.

Ikuforiji said about N806m "have been accessed from its 2010 budget allocation of N1bn and all used for debt servicing. Bad road is a major reason why the entire city of Lagos is wobbling under traffic.

"When Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola presented the 2010 budget proposal and I mentioned the issue of road maintenance, it seemed as if I was attacking him. But today, a good number of Lagos residents are complaining because our roads have never been this bad," the speaker explained.

The lawmakers felt disappointed when Akintola, who took over the headship of the corporation in February 2010, told them that the corporation has not done any concrete road maintenance for the last two years.

According to Ikuforiji, we are all sad about the situation of our roads. In fact, we cannot even hide it any longer.

At the deliberation, the lawmakers were equally surprised when they realised that even if they approved the N1bn the agency wants, it would not have a significant impact on roads in the state.

Akinola said: "N800m will be needed monthly if ten percent of the state’s roads, which are about 7,000km, are to be maintained annually. It means the corporation requires about N9.6bn annually to keep the state’s roads properly maintained."

In his address, Honourable Rotimi Olowo of Shomolu Constituency I said: "It is not a good business model. I am sure you will not do that if you are a businessman managing your own company. With due respect, you are just a liability to the state."

Though Akintola defended the decision as necessary to regain contractors’ confidence, Olowo said debt servicing should not be a one-off issue.

Ikuforiji commenting further said: "This shows that we [government] are not concerned about the plight of road users in Lagos."