FG launches N64m public information website

Written by Maritime First

…As Lagos’ monthly internally generated revenue hits N34 billion— Govt***

The Federal Government on Monday launched the multi-million naira website in line with its commitment to run an open and accountable administration.

Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha, who officially launched the website at an estimated cost of N64 million, said it was created as a functional platform that would deliver information and policy thrust of the present administration.

He said in accordance with the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, government officials have no right to hide information from Nigerians, provided such information does not fall under the classified document.

He said the federal government website, www.osgf.gov.ng, would give Nigerians the opportunity to track the activities of the government and ask questions where necessary.

Mustapha, however, estimated the cost of upgrading the website, including procurement of laptops, training of officials and consultancy services, at N64 million.

He said the cost had been captured in the 2017 budget, where N64 million was initially allocated for it.

“We are not in a position to hide information from people except they are classified information, this is in our commitment to have and to run an open government system.

“There was a contract in 2017. The figure is in public domain. It is about N64million including procurement of laptops, training, consultancy services.

“The contract was awarded by the Bureau of Public Procurement in accordance with the Procurement Act,” Mustapha said when
questions were thrown to him regarding the cost of the upgrade.

The SGF also noted that the website was mooted in accordance with the executive order 001, necessary to drive investment and development worldwide.

He described the revamped e-participation platform as the major achievement of the new website.

Through the platform, members of the public could request for information from government, submit ideas, and lodge complaints.

In the meantime, the Lagos State Government on Monday said that it has so far achieved an average monthly Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of N34billion in 2018 compared to monthly averages of the last three years.

Commissioner for Finance, Akinyemi Ashade, who disclosed this at the ongoing annual Ministerial Press Briefing to mark the third anniversary of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode’s administration held at Bagauda Kaltho Press Centre in Alausa, attributed the gradual improvement to the impact of the ongoing reforms and growth in the State’s economy.

He said, “Notably, we are recording gradual improvement in our average monthly IGR in 2018 compared to the levels achieved in previous years due to the impact of ongoing reforms and growth in the State’s economy. Based on our first quarter results, Lagos State has so far achieved an average monthly IGR of N34billion in 2018 compared to monthly averages of N22bn, N24bn and N30bn in 2015, 2016 and 2017 respectively.”

The Commissioner expressed optimism that the IGR would continue to rise even further as the State continues to implement the various reforms, driven by wider technology adoption and innovation, adding that the target to grow the State’s IGR to N50bn by next year was well on course.

“The target we set for ourselves is N50billion but we all know the kind of push backs we have experienced including people going to court and all that. Our commitment is not for now, its for the future of Lagos. We know it’s a marathon, we would win some and we would lose some, but we are very committed towards ensuring that we meet the target, but if we don’t meet it this year, definitely there would be another year, but we believe we would succeed in that target we set for ourselves,” Mr Ashade said.

On federal transfers, he said since Lagos joined the league of oil producing State, the government had received a total of N327 million revenue, comprising N197 million and N130 million received in 2017 and first quarter of 2018 respectively.

“Furthermore, we are in ongoing discussions with the Federal Government towards obtaining a refund for expenditure totalling N51billion that was incurred by the State Government on behalf of the Federal Government for infrastructure projects developments in the State. We are optimistic of successful discussions that will result in the approval and payment of the amount owed to the State Government by the Federal Government,” he said.

Giving an update on the State’s Debt Profile, Mr Ashade said the government’s debt stock, comprising 48 per cent local debt and 52 per cent foreign debt currently stood at N874.38 billion at the end of 2017 while the debt service charge to total revenue ratio which stood at 17.61 per cent was still within the World Bank threshold of 30 per cent.

The commissioner said the State Government has continued to maintain a positive credit rating, however, adding that a downgrade of Nigeria’s sovereign rating would lead to a corresponding action on Lagos’ international drawing rights.

“As Nigeria continues to improve on its credit rating, we would be able to achieve better rating as we currently have because no amount of revenue generation, no amount of employment growth of Lagos State can make us surpass to surpass the sovereign rating,” he said.

He, however, said that the state government has taken some strategic steps to help Nigeria improve on its ratings including adhering to fiscal discipline, improved revenue generation, reforms in infrastructure development, transport and embedded power.

Giving an update on the revised Land Use Charge (LUC), Ashade said the State Government has continued to engage critical stakeholders in line with its tradition of inclusive governance, adding that a wide range of response have been received.

He said the extensive discussions led to several concessions on Land Use charge for property owners across board, adding that a revised bill to further amend the LUC Law to incorporate the additional concessions was presently before the House of Assembly and would be passed soon.

Besides, the Commissioner said the Government through the LUC Assessment Appeal Tribunal, received a total of 1,503 complaints, out of which 1,113 were successfully resolved administratively and through mediation, adding that an additional 263 property owners/agents had their grievances resolved in the last two weeks and more still ongoing.

Mr Ashade also urged residents to continue to support the government by fulfilling their civic duty of paying their taxes and remitting all taxes collected on behalf of the Government as and when due, assuring that the present administration was committed to maintaining financial accountability and transparency for the overall development and prosperity of the State.

The Citizen with additional report from Premium

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Maritime First