The over 100,000 Lagos civil servants and other stakeholders, yesterday, left office to welcome Year 2019 without understanding the State government’s financial direction for the year. The 2018 budget expired yesterday.
Unlike the previous year when they already knew the government’s plans and direction, and resumed work after the break with a goal to pursue the vision, this year will be different. Reason: The workers are yet to hear from the State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, the 2019 budget and financial direction.
Presentation of budget before the end of the year had been the style of governance in Lagos in the last 10 years.
Even after assuring Lagos residents that the budget will cater for unfinished projects, the State House of Assembly was yet to receive any letter of intention from the Governor on when he would present the budget.
Unlike the just concluded year, Ambode presented the 2018 budget on December 11, 20 days to its commencement, which fell-short of the precedence left by his predecessor, Babatunde Fashola, now minister of Power, Works and Housing, though it was the second biggest budget in the country.
The budget which was over N1 Trillion was applauded by financial experts as been targeted at reducing infrastructural deficit caused by population explosion in Lagos.
Fashola, while in office, ensure that the budget for the new year were presented to the lawmakers. Even when his second term was not certain, he ensure that the tradition laid by his predecessor remains.
Fashola, on December 13, 2010, presented the 2011 budget estimate of N445.2bn and followed this with N485bn budget presentation on November 14, 2011 to cater for Year 2012.
This tradition continued till he presented 2015 budget, which was his last, at N489.75bn on November 24, 2014.
But the civil servants were stunned after close of work on December 31 without any news on the budget from the State Governor rather, the number one citizen spent the day inaugurating the youngest Head of Service, Hakeem Muri-Okunola and six other permanent secretaries.
Even if the budget is presented when the lawmakers resume later in the month, the 2019 appropriation bill may not be available for signing until February considering the number of days the State House of Assembly spent scrutinizing last year’s budget.
On the activities of the State House of Assembly, the Chief Press Secretary to the Speaker, Musbau Rasak, told Vanguard that the lawmakers were on recess and would only resume after the holiday.