The Lagos State government has debunked a misrepresentation of its finances, saying the state is economically and financially solid. In reaction to a publication by BudgIT, titled ‘Ability of States to Meet Monthly Recurrent Expenditure and Loan Repayment Obligations, 2019’, Dr Rabiu Olowo, Commissioner for Finance, said that “Lagos State continues to meet all its recurrent and loan service obligations and the information that was published is incorrect, inaccurate and a gross distortion of the actual facts.” He noted that as indicated in Lagos State’s published Financial Statements, the information in the table published by BudgIT should have correctly indicated a surplus of N89 billion not a deficit of N39 billion.
He said: “Lagos continues to explore options in both the Financial and Capital Markets, to extract optimal funding solutions, which will enhance the administration’s ability to deliver on the construction, renewal, and improvement of the deficit in social and physical infrastructure for the benefit of Lagosians; who represent 10% of Nigeria’s population.
“In the year under review (2019), Lagos restructured all existing internal loan facilities to 14% per annum, from between 18% and 20% per annum. These rates have even more recently been re-negotiated to 12% per annum.
“Lagos is the only state that is not reliant on the allocation from Federal Account Allocation Committee, with Internally Generated Revenues representing 72% of the state’s aggregate revenues to enable it to address challenges faced by megacities world over. As of August 2020, Lagos Internal Revenue Service is doing 103% above budget, and well above 2019 figures, despite the COVID-19 pandemic which demonstrates the financial resilience of the Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s administration for a Greater Lagos.”
Earlier, the civic advocacy group, BudgIT, had apologised to the government for the misrepresentation in its report, which it made public last Thursday, including Lagos among states with the recurrent deficit, borrowing to pay salaries. In a series of tweets, the organisation said it has retracted the previous graphic on the ability of states to meet their recurrent expenditure it circulated as part of the report.