By Ezra Odogu
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu has advised state governments to cut down on waste and excess, and ensure that every unit of surviving expenditure delivers maximum value and impact, for the benefit of the populace.
He said the ultimate goals must be value for money, and the enhancement of the quality and timeliness of service delivery.
Speaking on Monday at the National Council on Finance and Economic Development (NACOFED) Conference held at Marriott Hotel in Ikeja, Lagos, Sanwo-Olu said a robust Public Finance Management system is the critical pathway for the efficient and effective delivery of the dividends of democracy to the citizens, which according to him must be carried out in a manner that is transparent and accountable to all.
Governor Sanwo-Olu in his keynote address during the conference entitled “Public Sector Finance Management in the New Normal, (Post Covid-19)” said the gathering would provide an opportunity to share thoughts, exchange views and forge a common front in addressing some of the fiscal and socio-economic challenges foisted on the country by the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said: “What the pandemic (COVID-19) has done is to compel us all, whether in the public or private sectors, to focus more attention on exploring ways ‘to do more with less.’ We have been forced to find ways of optimising spending, to ensure that, one, we are cutting down on waste excesses and things that we do not need, and two, that every unit of surviving expenditure delivers maximum value and impact, for the benefit of our populace.
“This is the time for Commissioners for Finance and Commissioners for Economic Planning to be sincere with their principals, who may have asked you to do the impossible. But indeed, we know this is the time for you to be frank and sincere to your principal that we have to think out of the box. You have to be very creative and do away with what will not be considered as important this time.”
Governor Sanwo-Olu also commended the Federal Government for faithfully implementing various initiatives aimed at improving the quality of Public Financial Management in Nigeria.
He said initiatives like the Treasury Single Account (TSA), the Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit (PICA), the Government Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS), among others, including the States’ Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability Programme for Results (SFTAS) Programme, have provided support to States to help them achieve desired fiscal reforms underlined by prudence, openness, transparency and accountability.
The Governor said the programme has also highlighted to States the need to redouble efforts aimed at increasing Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).
He said: “We must rapidly embrace technology as a tool for increasing transparency and accountability, as well as expanding citizens’ access to public services in a manner that is cost-effective and solution oriented. Every opportunity to reduce non-essential spending must equally be seized with both hands. And, very importantly, we must invest in building the human capacity required to adapt seamlessly to the social, legal, technological and policy demands of the new normal.
“Here in Lagos State, we are doing a lot in that regard, from cleaning up our public payroll system, to embracing automation and technology in the management of land and property records and processes, to restructuring loans and bonds to ensure a productive lowering of our debt service costs, and also to exploring innovative ways of mobilising capital to deliver on our vision of a truly 21st Century Megacity.”
Governor Sanwo-Olu also reiterated Lagos State’s commitment and continuous support to the Federal Government’s policies and programmes.
“The Lagos State Government, under our watch, will continue to collaborate with all stakeholders, public and private, on this journey to the attainment of a peaceful and prosperous Nigeria.
The time is now, for all hands to be on deck to rebuild from the disruptions occasioned by the pandemic. The goal of this rebuilding must not be to restore the old economy that COVID disrupted, but instead to build a new one that is fit-for-purpose for the 21st century and fit for the new reality of a post-COVID planet,” he said.
Speaking earlier, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Dr. (Mrs) Zainab Ahmed, said the Federal Government remains committed to the reforms the Muhammadu Buhari administration has started, which according to her are aimed at enabling the business environment, creating the right fiscal space for investment and diversification of the revenue base of the economy.
She said: “The last couple of years presented series of challenges to us as a nation and the entire globe. From the decline in revenue to slow growth and recovery largely due to the fall in crude oil prices on account of falling global demand and the containment measures to fight the spread of COVID-19, which affected virtually every sector of the economy.
“The good news, however, is that our recovery rate from the pandemic has been sustainably good and encouraging. Fortunately, things are now looking up for us and our economy is bouncing back to normal. Based on the current economic outlook, our economy is projected to grow by 1.5 per cent this year and 2.9 per cent in 2022. Therefore, as we move to the reset opportunities, our focus should be on growing and consolidating the recovery efforts.”
In his goodwill message, the Chairman of Senate Committee on Finance and Senator representing Lagos West Senatorial District, Senator Adeola Solomon, said the government should develop and push for appropriate measures that suit the country’s situation, especially in dealing with post-COVID 19 issues.
Also speaking, Kogi State Commissioner of Finance, Budget and Economic Planning, Asiwaju Ashiru Idris, said Lagos State deserves special attention and therefore called on the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), to consider special status for Lagos State anytime they are going to review the revenue formula.