By Modupe Gbadeyanka
Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State has disclosed that the state needs at least $50 billion over the next five years to bridge the gap of infrastructural deficit.
Mr Ambode made this disclosure on Tuesday when he spoke at a forum with the Organised Private Sector tagged ‘Lagos Means Business.’
The Governor said, “Assuming the entire budget for 2018 (N1.04 trillion) is spent only on infrastructure development, Lagos will be left with a deficit of about N14.47 trillion and an additional 19 years of similar expenditure to bridge the infrastructure deficit.”
However, Mr Ambode disclosed that to solve this issue, a special infrastructure fund driven by the private sector to address social challenges would be created.
The Governor said apart from the special infrastructure fund, residents of the metropolis would also have to contribute their quota by paying their taxes.
Mr Ambode expressed concerns that out of the eight million taxable adults in the state, only about two million submitted their tax returns while only 700,000 actually paid their taxes last year.
“We are 24 million; taxable adults in Lagos are 8 million. The number of people that actually submitted tax returns in 2017 is 2 million and then only 700,000 people paid their taxes,” he said.
He said the current tax returns were not enough to cater for the capital projects ongoing across the metropolis, adding that major cities across the world with thriving economies are sustained by the taxes paid by residents.
Thanking the business community for their support over the years, Mr Ambode said his administration was committed to creating an enabling environment for businesses to thrive, adding that concerted efforts have been made to encourage investors to set up their businesses in the State, which according to him would have multiplying effects on the State’s economy.
“I invite you to come and own the economy. Whatever you say here would be taken seriously because this gathering is not just about knowledge sharing; it’s more about the future of Nigeria and not just Lagos,” the Governor said.
In his brief remarks, President of Dangote Group, Mr Aliko Dangote, commended Governor Ambode for deeming it fit to organise a forum to meet the business community in Lagos, adding that his (Governor) passion to make Lagos thrive was not in doubt.
He also said the economic drive by the state government was one that required all and sundry to rally round the government and perform their civic responsibility of paying their taxes as and at when due.
“I am more convinced now and I think people should really be voluntarily paying taxes in Lagos. I think for people who are doing business here, Lagos is the friendliest state in Nigeria. If you really want to know, try other states and you will see hell.
“I am not advertising for Lagos but there is not a single time you go with a problem and the Governor will ask you to go and come back tomorrow because in most cases, he will call everybody and say let us sit down and sort out the issues. So, your Excellency, we congratulate you and assure that we will continue to support you,” the Africa’s richest man said.
Also speaking, Mr Jim Ovia and Mr Tony Elumelu lauded the Governor for the massive infrastructural renewal projects across the State especially in the area of security.
Mr Ovia said that business owners now feel safe to invest in the state owing to the investment in security, just as he commended the Governor for sustaining the Lagos State Security Trust Fund (LSSTF), a public private partnership designed to enhance security in the State.
“Your Excellency, you have spoken today like a Chairman/CEO of a company to his shareholders. We are definitely one of your shareholders and we would renew your mandate in 2019 there’s no doubt,” Mr Ovia said.
The duo promised to increase their donation to the fund, while also calling on others to contribute their quota to the enhancement of the State’s security architecture.
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