Outgoing Lagos State governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, has revealed that his four-year administration took no foreign loans despite the pressure on the state’s Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) due to massive infrastructure projects the administration set out to accomplish to cater to the growing needs of the estimated over 21 million residents of the state.
According to Ambode, although the foreign component of the state’s debts hovers around $1.43 billion, his administration never added to it but was committed to servicing what it inherited from the previous administrations, which has been compounded by unstable exchange rates.
The governor spoke in an exclusive interview with BusinessDay, saying his background as a financial expert and years of experience at the top level of the state’s civil service as an Accountant-General came handy in managing the resources of Nigeria’s biggest state economy to achieve outstanding results.
Statistics from the Debt Management Office (DMO) show Lagos State’s total external debt stock as at 31 December, 2018 stood at $1.43 billion. The external debt comprised $1.28 billion from multilateral source and $143.83 million was bilateral, sourced from the African Development Bank.
In addition, the state’s total domestic debt stock was N530.24 billion as at the same period of 2018.
“Talking about Lagos State having the highest amount in terms of foreign loans, truth is that I have it on record that in my four years, I never took any foreign loan. So, whatever it is that they are saying about having $1.43 billion is an accumulation of loans that have been taken by successive governments,” Ambode told BusinessDay.
“Remember also, these facilities that we call loans were taken at an exchange rate that was lower than N150. But again, this government that has not taken any of these facilities would pay back and has been paying back in the last four years on the new exchange rate which is like N360 because government is a continuum.
“That has immense pressure on the internally generated revenue. And when you have this pressure on the IGR that you are using to service these facilities without complaining, it means that you have been financially prudent to be able to use the remaining resources to do what you have outside there in terms of infrastructure development,” said Ambode.
He further explained that beyond being financially prudent, his administration has given value for money by undertaking major projects that are further improving the economy of Lagos in particular and Nigeria in general, pointing to the construction of road networks, Oshodi Transport Interchange (OTI), Lagos airport road, resuscitation of Ayinke House (maternity hospital), Ikeja, jubilee bridges, laybys, redesigning of Ojodu Berger on Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, the light-up Lagos project, among others, as legacies his successor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, will build upon.
“That is the way to explain what has been happening and the value that comes with the infrastructure that we are giving. It is like double the price of what we are putting inside when you match the issues about loans and resources. Remember also that the country was going into recession when we came in,” Ambode explained.
Courtesy: Business Day