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By Lekan Lisoye

Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun says his administration would in the coming year rely more on the state’s Internally Generated Revenue as its primary source of financing its budget before any other source.

His administration, the governor said, would be mindful of the need to avoid unnecessary tax burden on its citizens. 

Prince Abiodun who made this known at the virtual consultative meeting with the representatives of the people of Ogun East Senatorial District in his office at Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta on the 2021-2023 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and 2021 budget, urged the people of the state to continue to support the present administration in the state by discharging their civic duties.

"Despite the steep declines in revenues from the Federation Account, we shall rely more on our internally generated revenue from Ogun State Internal Revenue Service, (OGIRS) and other revenue sources. In this regard, we have strengthened the OGIRS, including recent appointment of a seasoned professional as the Chairman.

"Whilst being mindful of the need to avoid unnecessary tax burden on our citizens, we appeal to them to continue to support us by discharging their civic duties in our joint task of building the state of our future together, we shall continue to give utmost priority to capital project investments in Education, Health, and Infrastructure Sectors," he said.

The Governor who also noted that his administration would continue to sustain payment of salaries, pensions and gratuities within limited resources, said that his administration would continue to carry out downward review of overhead expenses at reasonable percentage against revenue generation prospects of Ministries, Departments and Agencies in the State.

Abiodun while noting that the recent payment of the new minimum wage was in line with the agreement reached with labour, urged the labour unions in the state to be considerate in their demands at a time government was also struggling with finances.

He said the Government will give utmost priority to education, health, agriculture and road Infrastructure, as it prepares for next year's budget.

Abiodun pointed out that his administration would be proactive in the coming year by latching on this years’ experience to improve on service delivery, revenue drive and public private partnership.

The Governor decried the negative impact of the Covid-19 to the economy of the State. He informed that the current year’s budget was reviewed downward from N450bn to N280bn in consonance with the economic realities in the wake of the pandemic, adding that 20% of the 2020 Revised Appropriation was, understandably, allocated to the Health Sector.

"To give life to businesses, various reliefs were given to business owners as part of palliative measures to assist them cope with the economic slide and ensure business continuity. These relief packages include 6- month extension of the 2019 income tax returns deadline for self-employed residents from March 31, 2020 to September 30, 2020.

"We also granted an 8-month extension of filing of 2019 annual PAYE returns by PAYE operators/tax agents from January 31, 2020 to September 30, as well as complete waiver of interest and penalty for late filing for the extension period", the Governor explained.

He said the hosting of the town hall meeting was a symbolic approach of inclusiveness, fairness, justice, equity and respect to the rule of law for which the Government policies are known.

Prince Abiodun, while enumerating some of the roads constructed by his administration said, they include Awa – Iloaporu-Ibadan Express Road, Hospital Road, Sagamu, Bright Fashion Baruwa street, Sagamu, Ijebu Ode-Epe, Sagamu-Ore Interchange Flyover in Ijebu-Ode-Odogbolu LG, Molipa -Fusigboye -Ojofa Street, among others, adding that hospitals, especially primary healthcare centres, schools and other infrastructure projects were also given due attention.

"We will continue to sustain payment of salaries, pensions and gratuities within the limited resources. It is instructive that we have commenced the payment of new minimum wage in October, to demonstrate our commitment to workers’ welfare. We expect them in turn to reciprocate this gesture with improved productivity and service delivery", he said.

While pledging to carry out downward review of overhead expenses with reasonable percentage against revenue generation prospects of each MDA in the State, the Governor maintained that the gathering would cross-fertilize ideas for the preparation of a more viable Year 2021 Budget that would ensure individual prosperity and improved economy of the State.

He called on the people to contribute and take maximum advantage of the platform to express their views, assuring that their comments, recommendations, proposals, feedback would be adequately and appropriately considered for the preparation of the Year 2021 budget.

Speaking earlier, the Commissioner for Budget Planning, Hon. Olaolu Olabimtan, said the aim of the administration was to eliminate poverty in the State. He lauded the people for their valuable support which has led to tremendous improvement on various sectors.

The Commissioner for Finance and Chief Economic Adviser to the Governor, Mr. Dapo Okubadejo, in his remark, described this year as the most challenging on the economy of the State, noting that Government would look inward for quick recovery of all sectors.
In his remarks, the Chairman, Governor's Elders Advisory Council, Chief Oluneye Okuboyejo while calling on the state government to help farmers in the Ogun East Senatorial district on issues relating to land ownership and encroachment, said that the issues had made it difficult for farmers in the area to think of expanding their farms.

“The government is doing well in the area of agriculture, the problem of land ownership for agriculture is a key issue, in Eriwe and all the farms we have around the local government, we have problems of land ownership because our farmers want to expand, even where we exist, encroachment is not helping the stakeholders at all, help us to solve them," he said.

The elder statesman while commending the state government on efforts to improve the infrastructure of the state, urged the state government to pay more emphasis on Government Reservation Areas (GRA). 

"I want to commend the Government for touching not only the rural areas, but the cities that have been neglected for over eight years, in year 2021, a little emphasis should continue to be placed on infrastructure. This time around, I want to plead that in looking at infrastructure, concentration should not just be given to city roads, rural roads, but the reservation areas, I mean the government reservation areas(GRA's), the road networks in some of this places, particularly the one that I know, are not too good," he said.

Okuboyejo applauded government in the areas of education, particularly in the areas of ICT and Youth Empowerment, urged the state government to place more emphasis on ICT and Youth Empowerment in the 2021 budget.

The chairperson, Ogun State Chapter of the Association of Women Entrepreneurs, Mrs. Olude Oluwakemi and her counterpart in the Women Support and Care Initiative, Dr. (Mrs.) Omolara Quadri called on the state government to give more emphasis to women empowerment in the state by building their capacity.

Some of the participants which included youth and women groups, religious leaders, elder statesmen and women and Labour leaders, who contributed at the meeting, called for the creation of more jobs, execution of more capital projects and empowerment of the youth and women in the coming fiscal year.

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