Fashola Advocates Investment In Infrastructure

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Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), has anvassed massive investment in infrastructure in the country in order to create jobs for the unemployed and empower them to pay income taxes from which revenue could be generated internally for the country.

 

Governor Fashola, who spoke at the Lagos House, Alausa, when he hosted the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Senator Bala Mohammed, said such massive investment would also accelerate development by attracting foreign direct investment which would further boost more employment and income generation.

 

The FCT Minister, who in his opening remarks, had acknowledged the Internally Generated Revenue profile of the state as the highest in the country, had told Governor Fashola that he and his team would like to understudy the revenue collection strategy and other key initiatives of the administration for use in the FCT.

 

He said there was need to help the President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, to reduce pressure on the Federal Treasury and Budget based on oil by looking inwards to generate revenue internally, adding, “We have come to Lagos to learn what you have done to generate this kind of revenue, Whether in Transport, Land programmes , environmental sanitation or even in other sources, we will like to learn. It is simply a miracle.

 

“I know since you are our own, our consultant, our big brother and of course with the assemblage of experts that you have, we want to learn from you so that we can see how we can generate that kind of revenue internally.”

 

The governor, who cited the Lagos example to buttress his point, said there is no magic wand in the revenue profile of the state because it is the people who have been empowered through his administration’s infrastructure renewal programme that pay tax from which the revenue is generated.

 

“Now at this time when the Internally Generated Revenue has become a national issue, it is important to learn some useful lessons here; that the bulk of our Internally Generated Revenue comes from income taxes. It is only people who have income, who have jobs that can pay income tax,” the governor said.

 

According to him, “there is no magic wand about Internally Generated Revenue. It is what you put in that you get out. Therefore, to stimulate Internally Generated Revenue, government must invest in infrastructure. It must invest in infrastructure to attract dedicated people, businessmen who will create jobs.

 

“Government must invest in infrastructure that will attract business to go on and prosperity to thrive. Government must continuously invest in building infrastructure like roads that renew the value of property. Everywhere that we have built a road, property values have appreciated and it is only fair to expect that people will pay taxes on the properties and allow business to grow.”

 

Reiterating that it is the continuous investment by his government that brings about the observed returns, the governor said in order to ensure the management and distribution of the revenue in a way to prevent loss, there could be need to engage the services of professionals who, according to him, “will invest technology as we have done with our revenue consultants who only administer the collection of revenue.”

 

Governor Fashola said, however, that the engagement of consultants does not mean that the officers in the Internal Revenue Service are not doing their jobs adding, “they are the ones issuing the bills and going to collect”.

 

“It is a strategic partnership between government and the private sector. Now, the line benefit of this is that you are creating jobs for the people who have information technology and knowledge-based economy to sell. These are the diversities of the Lagos economy that continues to make it attractive for those who have knowledge to sell and knowledge to share,” he said.

 

Governor Fashola also reiterated the call on the Federal Government to accord the state a special status as a former Federal Capital Territory, saying the infrastructure left behind when the capital moved to Abuja has become a challenge to his administration to maintain.

 

According to the governor, the challenges posed by the Federal Government properties in Lagos make it imperative that the present administration in the state be supported by way of special status to maintain the infrastructure.

 

“It has been a continuous appeal by Lagos that the infrastructure that has been left behind here is a challenge to the government of the day to maintain and that this government needs support by way of special status to maintain that infrastructure,” the governor said.

 

The governor, however, said it was important to make cities across the country to be functional in order to stem the tide of rural urban migration which, according to him, has put pressure on Lagos.

 

“If the rural areas become functional and sustainable, the issue of rural urban drift would be reduced to the minimum,” he said, adding that states across the country would also benefit from such development.

 

“The more our cities become functional and sustainable and our states also benefit from this functionality, then we can reduce rural urban migration and drift that clearly has put pressure on Lagos and understandably you are beginning to feel the pains. Those of us in Lagos understand the problem; the number of people who come here everyday never go back; who try to make a living anywhere, everywhere; who try to build a home whether it is on a flood plain, on a canal and who you take responsibility in the event that there is flood,” he said.

 

Thanking the minister for his visit, Governor Fashola, who described it as courageous, declared, “I agree with the accord you have canvassed. Yes, we have held an election, but once the elections are over, the common responsibility that we bear is the business of governance.

 

“Our people will not care which side of political divide you belong. What matters to them is whether or not you could make democracy meaningful to them; whether you could make life better for them. Whether they voted for you or did not vote at all, the truth is that you collect their taxes irrespective of party lines, so it is our responsibility to provide service.”

 

Earlier, the minister in his opening remarks told Governor Fashola that he and his team had come to learn from him especially about Internally Generated Revenue, Transport and Traffic Management particularly the Bus Rapid Transit system.

 

According to the minister, “We have undertaken this visit to underscore that Lagos is working and we have come to appreciate you and your group. Abuja has grown out of Lagos. So, Lagos is the father and you have shown leadership and responsibility.”

 

Acknowledging the enormity of the challenges facing Lagos, the minister declared, “the demographic indices of the state is such that the challenges in any other state of the federation is a child’s play.

 

“We appreciate how you used problems to provide solutions; problems of youth restiveness, problem of pollution, problem of environmental sanitation, transport infrastructure and management, metropolitan management challenges. You have provided solutions by looking inwards at some of the problems; using them and changing them to proffer solutions.”

 

The minister said his team, made up of directors and senior special assistants from relevant agencies and departments in the FCT, would liaise with the state government team to brainstorm on various areas of interest, including transport, revenue generation, traffic management and others.

 

Also present at the event were the state Commissioner for Transportation, Mr. Kayode Opeifa, the Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Remi Ibirogba and his Environment counterpart, Mr. Tunji Bello as well as other top government functionaries.

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