Anxiety over Lagos Assembly’s order to LGs to pay debts

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Questions are now being asked over last week’s order by the Lagos State House of Assembly to all the 20 local government councils and 37 council development areas in the state to pay outstanding debts of contractors in the state.

Investigations by Daily Times indicate that the grumblings emanate out of the fact that most of the councils in the state are hit by financial crunch, hence there is anxiety over where they would get the fund to pay the debts which are said to run into billions of naira across the state.

Last week, the Assembly members gave the order just as it approved the Year 2016 Budget Estimates of the councils in the state.

In a resolution, they mandated the sole administrators of the Local Councils to pay all outstanding debts in the Councils as recommended by the committee.

The amount approved for each of the local governments ranges between one billion and two billion naira.

According to the report, the LGs/LCDAs should explore all revenue sources and block leakages in order to improve on their Internally Generated Revenue (IGRs).

The approval followed the presentation of the report of the Joint Committee on Year 2016 Appropriation of the LGs and LCDAs in the state as presented on the floor of the House on Thursday by the Chairman of the House Committee on Budget and Economic Planning, Hon. Rotimi Olowo.

“The Committee on Local Government Administration and Community Affairs should monitor the payment of N8,575,000.00 being owed Mr. Adele Owolabi Elijah by the Apapa Local Government.

“Provisions made for the payment of severance to past political office holders and debts/outstanding liabilities of LGs/LCDAs in the Year 2016 Approved Budget should be adhered to.

“The leadership of the LGs/LCDAs are implored to reduce the number of non-pensionable staff in order to save monies for developmental projects.

“The Commissioner for Finance and the State Accountant-General should ensure quarterly payment of the Land Use Charge and Wharf Landing fees to the LGs/LCDAs in the State,” Olowo said in the report.

The Local Councils were also directed to seek approval of the House Committee on Local Government Administration and Community Affairs before obtaining bank loans.

In addition, the legislative arm of the Councils were ordered to submit quarterly report of their activities to the House of Assembly in line with Section 35 (1) (8) of the Year 2015 Guidelines on Administrative Procedure for Local Governments as amended.

“Local Government Service Commission should be mindful of the period of posting Budget/Planning Officers in the LGs/LCDAs in order not to disrupt Budget Process.

Hon. Olowo also stated in his report that “The agencies in the state that deals with all accrued fund to the LGs/LCDAs must be accountable for the operation of the law that set them up.

It will be recalled that the House at the Plenary Session of Tuesday, 16th February, 2016 mandated the Joint Committee on Economic Planning and Budget; Local Government Administration and Community Affairs; and Public Accounts (Local) to consider Year 2016 Appropriation for 20 LGs and 37 LCDAs in the state.

The House subsequently adjourned sitting to Monday 11 July, 2016 after Sallah holidays to enable Members go on Umrah to Saudi Arabia.

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