It seems Gov. Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State, has no scrupples with burying the state in the cemetry of debt just as has denied a media report that the state government obtained $15-million loan from the Export-Import (Ex-IM) Bank of America.
But his claim contradicts his position last year when he accused the Federal Government of attempting to halt a $600 million loan facility from the World Bank.
This comes on the heels of Lagos state government’s refusal to give the details of the contracts they signed with Tinubu’s Tax firm Alfa Beta. This company takes home monthly, the sum of 6 billion Naira from Lagos state’s coffer.
One Dr Adegbola Dominic of Santa Maria Hospital, Lagos had in a letter invoked the FOI Act as passed by the national assembly and requested for the contract documents from the Lagos state govt, but, according to him, the state government said that the FoI act is only for federal records and does not affect states.
Lagos topped the list of external debtors with $517,677,672 as of June 30, 2012.
The foreign debt increased by 5.25 per cent from $491,847.295 in December, 2011.
However, while other four states depend on federal allocations, Lagos generates a huge internal revenue, which was about N23bn monthly in the first quarter of the year.
A recent media report had reported that the bank granted 15-million-dollar direct loan to the state government.
Fashola, while inspecting some ongoing projects in Ikorodu area on Tuesday, described the report as mischievous.
Sometime last year, Fashola had approached the House of Representatives Committee on Loans, Aids and Debts, seeking an intervention in an alleged attempt by the Federal Government to halt a $600m loan facility the state had with the World Bank.
Fashola who met with members of the House Committee on Loans, Aids and Debts, told the lawmakers that it was improper to halt a running loan facility, particularly when the loan had been factored into the 2013 budget proposal of the state.
In a petition presented to the House Committee Tuesday, the governor said the loan was procured on the understanding that Lagos State would access $200 million in three tranches over a period of three years, spanning from 2012 to 2014.
He however expressed surprise that after the state had accessed the first tranche, there were indications that the Federal government was no longer prepared to guarantee the loan.
According to Fashola, the sudden refusal to guarantee the loan could frustrate the plans of state to deploy the borrowed funds to boost its infrastructure development plans.
“We have a commitment with the World Bank for a loan of $600 million offered to Lagos. It is supposed to be in three tranches and the first tranche was paid in 2011. We were expecting the payment of the second tranche when we got the shocking information that the loan facility had been stopped.
“As I speak, we have not received any official communication from the Federal Ministry of Finance about their concerns. I know that through the telephone communication I had with the Minister of Finance, she had told me that she could not accommodate Lagos State in the 2013 borrowing plan. My plea is for the second tranche to be included in the 2013 borrowing plan and the third included in the 2014 borrowing plans,” he said.
He said the story was far from the truth, explaining that Ex-IM only assisted the state government in purchasing 32 fire- fighting engines from an American company.
He said that the bank had never granted any direct loan to the state.
“We didn’t apply for any loan and we did not take any. I think the interesting thing about the news report is that while it focused on the 15 million, it very loudly omitted to say what the purpose was for.
“What I can also say is that no state governor can borrow money without the approval of his state Executive Council, not even from a local bank.
“Now, I also know as a fact that as a sub-national government, we cannot take loans from overseas without sovereign approval, and that’s why we go to the National Assembly and the Federal Executive Council, when we want to raise money.
“What really happened was that we applied for a supply of 32 fire engines from a company in the U.S. and anybody who is familiar with Ex-IM loans would know that it is a strategy by America to promote exports for its own companies to overseas countries.
“Now, fire engines are not what you can walk into any company and purchase easily. The American company that would manufacture them need some capital to put them together and export to us.
“So, what Ex-IM Bank did was to provide the capital to the manufacturer, guaranteed by a Nigerian bank, which we will pay to, so we are only buying a product, we did not take any loan,” he explained.
Fashola explained that all the external loans taken by the state were received to fund developmental projects for the good of Lagosians.
Below is the letter from Dr Dominic to the state:
APPLICATION FOR ACCESS TO, AND REQUEST TO YOU TO MAKE AVAILABLE TO ME, ALL THE INFORMATION, CTC’S OF THE FILES, RECORDS, CONTRACT DOCUMENTS ETC. IN YOUR CUSTODY OR POSSESSION RESPECT OF THE CONTRACT/AGREEMENT ENTERED THE GOVERNMENT OF LAGOS STATE AND, THE COMPANY, ALPHA BETA CONSULTING LIMITED MANDATING THE COMPANY TO COLLECT ON BEHALF OF THE GOVERNMENT ALL TAXES AND INTERNALLY GENERATED REVENUE (IGR) DUE, PAYABLE AND PAID TO THE GOVERNMENT AND ITS AGENCIES AND ALL THE COMMISSIONS DUE, PAYABLE AND PAID BY THE GOVERNMENT TO THE COMPANY AND RECEIVED BY THE COMPANY SINCE THE DATE OF THE CONTRACT/AGREEMENT PURSUANT TO SECTIONS 2, 3(3)M, O, 5, 6, 7, 9 & 10 OF THE PROVISIONS OF THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2011 OR AS REPLICATED/ DOMESTICATED IN LAGOS STATE OF NIGERIA
1.WHEREAS as the Commissioner for Finance, Lagos State, your office is responsible for the management and disbursement of the finances of Lagos State, as well as being the Supervisory Commissioner over the Board of Internal Revenue Services of Lagos State.
2.and WHEREAS as the Board of Lagos State Internal Revenue Services, your Board is the Board charged with the collection all taxes and internally Generated Revenue of Lagos State,
3.and WHEREAS as the Auditor General of Lagos State, your office audits the Public Accounts of the State and of all officers by accessing all the books, records, returns and other documents relating to those accounts,
4.and WHEREAS as the Special Adviser to the Governor of Lagos State on Taxation and Revenue, your office is in charge of monitoring all the taxes and revenue accruing to the state,
5.and WHEREAS as the Attorney General of Lagos State, you are the Chief Law Officer and Commissioner for Justice of the Government of Lagos State whose office prepares and vets all contractual agreements/documents of the Lagos State Government and its agencies, and has custody and possession of same.
and WHEREAS by virtue of the special positions, functions and responsibilities of your offices as stated in 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 above, you know, and deemed to know or ought to know all about the taxes and revenue accruing to the Government of Lagos State as well as have in your custody and possession all the contractual agreements entered in respect of taxes and revenue matters of the state, and have in your possession and custody copies of these contractual agreements.
6. AND WHEREAS as a citizen of Nigeria and indigene of Lagos State it has come to my knowledge that the Government of Lagos State has entered into a contractual agreement with the Company, Alpha Beta Consulting Ltd. Whereupon the Company has the mandate of the Government of Lagos State since 1999 to collect and been collecting on behalf of the Government of Lagos State all the taxes and Internally Generated Revenue which have accrued and been paid to the State whereafter the Company is entitled to and being paid the Commission (of 15% (Fifteen Per Centum) therefrom since the year 1999.
7.AND WHEREAS sometime in 2011 by virtue of a statement issued by Mr. Bola Sodipo, Special Adviser to the Governor of Lagos State on Taxation and Revenue, the existence of a Contractual Agreement with the Company as tax and revenue collector on behalf of the Government was confirmed; but added that the Government of Lagos State would terminate the services of the Company by February, 2012,
8.and WHEREAS the Government of Lagos State now boasts of an IGR or about N40 billion every month translating into a commission of N6 Billion due to and being paid to the Company every month, which sum I consider unfavourable and outrageous to me as a tax payer and Citizen of Lagos State.
I, Dr. Adegbola Dominic wish to know how the taxes, revenue, finances of the State accrue, are managed, disbursed etc. In Lagos State and do hereby apply, to you, by yourselves, agents, servants etc. to access and request to be made available to me by you, all information, CTC’s of Files, records, Contract Agreements/Documents, in respect of the said Contract/Agreement entered into between the Government of Lagos State and, the Company, Alpha Beta Consulting Limited, mandating the Company to assess and collect on behalf of the Government all Taxes and Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) due, payable and paid by the Government and its agencies and all the commissions due, payable and paid by the government to the Company and received by the Company since the announcement of the Contract/Agreement for my perusal and scrutiny pursuant to Section 2, 3(3)m, o, 5, 6, 7, 9, & 10 of the Provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2011 (F.O.I) as Replicated/Domesticated in Lagos State of Nigeria. My request is basically to let me know the monthly returns of the taxes and Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) generated, accrued, collected and paid to the Government and commissions received from Government or its agencies by the Company since inception of the contract.
Sir, under Section 5 of the F.O.I, the above information, records, file, agreements/documents etc. shall be made available to me within 7 days after the application is received by you and I am ready and undertake to pay all appropriate fees in your duplications and transcriptions of the said documents to meet my request.
Counting on your fullest co-operation.
DR. ADEGBOLA DOMINIC,
SANTA MARIA HOSPITAL,
10, SANTA MARIA STREET,
Tel: 08125840416, 08033251594
Adapted from Pointblanknews.com