Governor Akinwunmi Ambode Presents N1.046trn Y2018 Budget Proposal To House Of Assembly

Governor Akinwunmi Ambode Presents N1.046trn Y2018 Budget Proposal To House Of Assembly

…Earmarks 67% To Capital Expenditure, 33% For Recurrent, Targets N720bn IGR
…Infrastructure, Education, Transport, Security, Health Sectors Get Lion Share

Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode on Monday presented the Year 2018 Budget proposal of N1.046trillion to the House of Assembly, with a pledge that his administration will make every effort to complete all ongoing projects as well as initiate new ones to consolidate on the development recorded in the last 30 months.

Governor Ambode, who christened the 2018 Budget as “Budget of Progress and Development”, said it would be used to consolidate on the achievements recorded in infrastructure, education, transportation/traffic management, security and health sectors.

He said the Budget would also focus on mandatory capacity building for civil servants, all teachers in public secondary/primary schools, officers in the health service sector and women & youth empowerment alongside Medium and Small/Micro Size Entrepreneurs (MSMSE’s).

Outlining the key components of the budget, Governor Ambode said capital expenditure would gulp N699.082billion while N347.039billion would be dedicated to recurrent expenditure, representing a Capital/Recurrent ratio of 67 percent to 33 percent and a 28.67 percent increase over Y2017 budget.

The Governor said that despite the modest achievements recorded in 2017, there was still much work ahead, assuring that Government would not relent in its efforts to give Lagosians the best by way of continuous and efficient service delivery.

“Lagos has always been a trailblazer and we must consolidate on the economic gains made so far by initiating people-friendly programmes and projects that will attract more economic improvement in Y2018.

“It is our resolve in Y2018 to strive and complete all on-going projects in order to meet their specified completion period and embark on new strategic projects. We intend to improve on our Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) in the face of the dwindling accruable revenue allocation from the Federal Government, sustain our vision on wealth creation and poverty alleviation,” Governor Ambode said.

The Governor also listed key projects captured in the 2018 Budget to include the Agege Pen Cinema flyover; alternative routes through Oke-Ira in Eti-Osa to Epe-Lekki Expressway; the 8km regional road to serve as alternative route to connect Victoria Garden City (VGC) with Freedom Road in Lekki Phase I; completion of the on-going reconstruction of Oshodi International Airport Road into a 10-lane road and the BRT Lane from Oshodi to Abule-Egba.

On infrastructural renewal, Governor Ambode said his administration remains committed to sustaining the tempo of continuous construction, rehabilitation, upgrading and maintenance of network of roads across the State including those within the boundary areas of Lagos and Ogun States and that the bus reform initiative would be consolidated with the introduction of high and medium capacity buses, construction and completion of bus depots at Oshodi, Anthony, Yaba and many others.

He also said the movement of Mile 12 market to Imota had reached an advanced stage and would be completed in good time to pave way for relocation next year, while the 181 Local Government Roads will be commenced as contractors will be mobilized immediately, as well as continuous gridlock resolution, junction improvement, construction of more laybys and advancement of signalization that will improve traffic congestion especially along the Lekki-Epe corridor.

In the area of job creation, Governor Ambode said the Government would construct an ICT Focus Incubator Centre in Yaba, commence the development of Imota and Igbonla Light Industrial Park as well as the provision of additional small scale industrial estate at Shala, while the State Employment Trust Fund will disburse more funds to Lagosians to support business and stimulate the economy.

Governor Ambode also assured that his administration will vigorously pursue its planned direct intervention in the power value chain towards generating 3,000MW Embedded Power Programme within a three-year plan to achieving 24/7 power supply for the State, stressing that the challenge of inadequate power supply must be resolved for the economy to perform optimally.

He said within the 2018 fiscal year, the Government would continue to rekindle its efforts in the area of Tourism, Sports, Arts and Culture as well as embark on some major projects that would ensure that the State emerges as the hub for tourism, sports and entertainment.

He listed some of the projects to include completion of the five new Art Theatres; establish a Heritage Centre at the former Federal Presidential State House recently handed over to the State Government; build a world class museum between the former Presidential Lodge and the State House, Marina; fast-track construction of the proposed four new stadia in Igbogbo, Epe, Badagry and Ajeromi Ifelodun (Ajegunle) and complete the on-going Epe and Badagry Marina projects.

On Housing, Governor Ambode said that all on-going projects especially those at Gbagada, Igbogbo, Iponri, Igando, Omole Phase I, Sangotedo and Ajara-Badagry would be completed for delivery under the Rent-to-Own policy.

While acknowledging the cooperation and support received from Lagosians, members of the Business Community, Professional Bodies, Non-governmental Organizations and the State Civil Servants in years past, the Governor noted that the modest achievements by his administration within a short period couldn’t have been possible without residents who have been paying their taxes willingly and faithfully.

Besides, Governor Ambode urged residents to embrace the Public Utility Levy as the Cleaner Lagos Initiative aimed at ensuring a cleaner and healthier environment would commence in 2018.

Governor Ambode also commended members of the House of Assembly for their selfless service and support, saying that they have proven themselves to be dynamic and robust lawmakers and partners in progress.

Giving a sectoral breakdown at a press briefing in Alausa, Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Akinyemi Ashade said General Public Services got N171,623bn, representing 16.41 percent; Public Order and Safety, N46.612bn, representing 4.46; Economic Affairs, N473,866bn, 45.30 percent; Environmental Protection, N54,582bn, representing 5.22percent while Housing and Community Amenities got N59,904bn, representing 5.73 percent.

Ashade also told journalists that Health sector got N92.676billion, representing 8.86percent; Recreation, Culture and Religion got N12.511billion, representing 1.20 percent; Education got N126.302billion representing 12.07percent, while Social Protection got N8.042billion representing 0.77percent.

Receiving the budget, Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon Mudashiru Obasa commended Governor Ambode for faithfully executing the year 2017 budget, saying the positive impact of such had been felt across the State with various projects such as the Abule Egba, Ajah and Pen Cinema Flyovers, among other numerous projects in various sectors.

Obasa, who specifically lauded the fact that the 2018 budget estimate had provision for continuous infrastructural development in various sectors such as transport, security, environment, housing, health and capacity building for all public servants including teachers and health workers, however assured that the House would scrutinize it and ensure that the budget delivered on its promises to stimulate the economy of the State by focusing on infrastructure development, delivering inclusive growth and prioritizing the welfare of all Lagosians.

The event was attended by dignitaries in the State including members of the State Executive Council led by the Deputy Governor, Dr Idiat Adebule, former Speakers of the Lagos State House of Assembly, members of the National Assembly from Lagos State, former Deputy Governors of the State, party chieftains, traditional rulers, religious leaders, among others.

Mrs. Bolanle Ambode Urges Nigerian Youths To Shun Drug Abuse

Mrs. Bolanle Ambode Urges Nigerian Youths To Shun Drug Abuse

Wife of the governor of Lagos State, Mrs. Bolanle Ambode, has urged Nigerian youths to keep distance from drug use, for the sake of their personal health and the health of society.

She gave the advice in an address to members of the National Youth Service Corps, Batch B Stream 1, at the end of their orientation camp, at Iyana Ipaja, Lagos State.

Wife of the Governor of Lagos State, Mrs Bolanle Ambode,  inspecting a Guard-of-honour, during the talk on Drug Abuse to Youths and its Economic and Social Implications on our Society for the 2017 Batch B Stream 1 Corps Members, deployed to Lagos State, at the NYSC Orientation Camp, Iyana-Ipaja, Lagos.
Wife of the Governor of Lagos State, Mrs Bolanle Ambode, inspecting a Guard-of-honour, during the talk on Drug Abuse to Youths and its Economic and Social Implications on our Society for the 2017 Batch B Stream 1 Corps Members, deployed to Lagos State, at the NYSC Orientation Camp, Iyana-Ipaja, Lagos.

Mrs. Ambode who noted that many Nigerian youths had found a new past time in the consumption of illicit drugs, warned of the profound negative health and social consequences of drug addiction.

In her words, ‘It is disheartening to note, that some Nigerian youths are into illicit drug use, which is capable of ruining lives, homes, families and the country. It is time you and I rose to the occasion by saying no to the drug epidemic, which is gradually destroying the youth generation in our country’.

The governor’s wife listed the causes of drug addiction to include, peer pressure, low self-esteem, lack of job, to ease tension or relax among others, insisting however, that youths could stay off drugs despite those excuses.

Wife of the Governor of Lagos State, Mrs Bolanle Ambode (7th right); National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) State Cordinator, Prince Mohammed Momoh (6th right); DSN. NDLEA, Victor Oballa (r); Mrs. Berlinda Faniyi (m); camp officials, and Corps Members, during the talk on Drug Abuse to Youths and its Economic and Social Implications on our Society for the 2017 Batch B Stream 1 Corps Members, deployed to Lagos State, at the NYSC Orientation Camp, Iyana-Ipaja, Lagos.
Wife of the Governor of Lagos State, Mrs Bolanle Ambode (7th right); National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) State Cordinator, Prince Mohammed Momoh (6th right); DSN. NDLEA, Victor Oballa (r); Mrs. Berlinda Faniyi (m); camp officials, and Corps Members, during the talk on Drug Abuse to Youths and its Economic and Social Implications on our Society for the 2017 Batch B Stream 1 Corps Members, deployed to Lagos State, at the NYSC Orientation Camp, Iyana-Ipaja, Lagos.

She challenged the youths to take full charge of their lives, reminding them of their responsibility for own lives, since parents could not go everywhere with them.

‘Your parents cannot be with you everywhere you go, it therefore behoves you to exhibit an upbringing that speaks of good morals, respect for elders, respect for customs and tradition, constituted authorities and above all, the fear of God almighty’,  she stressed.

Mrs. Ambode implored the churches, mosques and all well-meaning Nigerians, to play meaningful roles in separating the youths from drugs.

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Speaking earlier, the State Coordinator of the NYSC, Prince Mohammed Momoh, noted that about 2, 549 members, mostly females, were deployed in the state for the current batch, adding that it was the business of all Nigerians, to save the youths from plunging into a generational tragedy with drug addiction.

Year 2018 Budget Presentation At The Chambers Of Lagos State House Of Assembly, Alausa

Year 2018 Budget Presentation At The Chambers Of Lagos State House Of Assembly, Alausa

The Year 2017 remains a significant year in the history of Lagos State as we celebrated our Golden Jubilee anniversary colourfully and successfully. The year provided an opportunity not only for celebration but also for significant progress in our drive to becoming a globally competitive economy.

I want to sincerely thank all Lagosians, our leaders, statesmen and citizens for their superlative support thus far, most especially our tax payers throughout Year 2017.

In the outgoing year, we changed the face of Lagos for good in spite of the economic, social and security challenges as our investment in critical infrastructure development paid off and are visible across the length and breadth of the State.

Although the Nigeria economy is still fragile and just coming out of recession, commitment to our people made us work harder to deliver results as we continue our reforms to ensure a safer and more prosperous Lagos. Today, we are proud to say that our collective efforts and transformations have contributed immensely to the improvement of Nigeria’s ranking in the World Bank’s Global Index on the ease of doing business.

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To get a clear picture of the economic challenges that have confronted our government, it is necessary to restate some important indicators. Crude oil prices have been dwindling from $US100.40 in 2014, $US 52.65 in 2015, $US43.81in 2016 to $US46.39 in 2017. Exchange rate increased from N156.44 in 2014 to N305.24 in 2017. The impact of this has been a sharp reduction in the inflow from the (Federal Government) Federation account and a huge increase in the cost of project delivery.

Despite this situation, our government has been able to initiate and deliver more high quality and high impact projects; more than ever before. We have achieved this using a mix of astute financial management and prudency; increasing our internally generated revenues, adequate allocation of resources across all sectors and an all-inclusive governance approach.

It is significant to note that our administration has not contracted any new external loan to fund our projects since assumption of office. We have only completed transactions which were already in place before we assumed office. This administration inherited external loans from various past administrations which make up 60% of all our loans. This figure is made up of some loans that have been running since 1989, about 30 years ago; and were contracted at an average of N80 to $US1. Today these loans are being repaid at an average rate of N305 to $US1 translating to 205% increase in the loan repayment rate.

The State has incurred huge exchange losses on its external loans this year, 2017. The exchange loss represent 35% of the State external loans stock due to exchange rate slump of the Naira from N197.50 to $1 to N305 to $1. This is one of the side effects of an economy in recession.

Irrespective of these losses, it will be inappropriate to say that Lagos State has a high debt burden when situated with the level of development and infrastructural growth enjoyed presently by the State. We are certain that the loans have continually been used for the wellbeing of all Lagosians.

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Despite the additional burden arising from devaluation of the Naira, our debt service ratio remains very strong on the back of our impressive revenue performance. The State’s net debt stock of N874.38bn represents just about 3% of the State GDP, while the Debt service charge to Revenue ratio stood at 15.61% compared to 13.32% in 2016 and 12.45% in 2015. I am proud to report to you that, today, your State remains financially strong and the most vibrant economy in the Nigerian landspace.

As part of the State’s commitment to fiscal sustainability we have continued to ensure that our deficit financing of capital projects remain within global benchmarks and our ratings internationally and locally have reflected our prudent management of public finance.

The Year 2017 Golden Jubilee budget of N812.998billion was approved and signed into Law on January, 9th 2017 to fulfill the expectations and priorities of our people. As at November 2017, the 11 month period Revenue performed at N448.396bn/76% compared to full year’s performances in 2016 of N449.609bn/83% and N399.382bn/82% for 2015.

Suffice it to say that the overall budget performance stood at 74% as at November 2017 and it is projected to close at 80% by the end of the year 2017.

The State average contribution to the National Gross Domestic Product (GDP) from 2015-2017 remains strong at about 30%.

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Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, despite our modest achievements in 2017, there is still much work ahead and we must not relent in our efforts to give our people the best by way of continuous and efficient service delivery. Lagos has always been a trailblazer and we must consolidate on the economic gains made so far by initiating people-friendly programmes and projects that will attract more economic improvement in Y2018.

It is our resolve in Y2018 to strive and complete all on-going projects in order to meet their specified completion period and embark on new strategic projects. We intend to improve on our Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) in the face of the dwindling accruable revenue allocation from the Federal Government, sustain our vision on wealth creation and poverty alleviation.

The proposed Y2018 budget christened ‘Budget of Progress and Development’ has a size of N1, 046,121,181,680 (N1, 046tn). The budget will be used to consolidate on infrastructure, education, transportation/traffic management, security and health with an added emphasis on mandatory capacity building for civil servants, all teachers in public secondary / primary schools, officers in the health service sector and women & youth empowerment alongside our Medium and Small/Micro Size Entrepreneurs (MSMSE’s).

The proposed budget amount represents an increase of 28.67% over Y2017 budget with the following key components:

Recurrent Expenditure                            – N347.039bn

Capital Expenditure                                – N699.082bn

Capital/Recurrent Ratio                              – 67:33

 

The estimate of total revenue for year 2018 is N897.423billion of which N720.123billion will be generated internally. A total of N148.699billion will be sourced through deficit financing within our medium term expenditure framework.

Our investment in new technology and the reforms put in place will galvanize the efficiency of our revenue collection from our citizens.

The highlights of sectoral allocation for Y2018 include;

S/N COFOG Y2018 Proposed Budget
Total
Allocation
%
Allocation
1 General Public Services 171,623,009,348 16.41
2 Public Order and Safety 46,612,667,911 4.46
3 Economic Affairs 473,866,339,451 45.30
4 Environmental Protection 54,582,814,610 5.22
5 Housing and Community Amenities 59,904,562,576 5.73
6 Health 92,676,040,222 8.86
7 Recreation, Culture and Religion 12,511,216,257 1.20
8 Education 126,302,213,428 12.07
9 Social Protection 8,042,317,877 0.77
  Total 1,046,121,181,680 100

 

In 2018, economic affairs will continue to dominate and get the largest allocation of the budget as there is a lot to be achieved in the coming year.

Mr. Speaker and Honourable Members, it is our desire to maintain the tempo of continuous construction, rehabilitation, upgrading and maintenance of network of roads throughout the length and breadth of the State including those within the boundaries of Lagos and Ogun States.

With the favourable weather conditions prevailing now, this year’s Local Government Roads totaling 181 will be commenced as contractors will be mobilized immediately.

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We have made provisions for continuous gridlock resolution, junction improvement, construction of more laybys and advancement of signalization that will improve traffic congestion especially along the Lekki-Epe corridor.

Other key projects that we have provided for include:

  • The Agege Pen Cinema flyover,
  • Alternative routes through Oke-Ira in Eti-Osa to Epe-Lekki expressway,
  • The 8km regional road to serve as alternative route to connect Victoria Garden City (VGC) with Freedom Road in Lekki Phase I.
  • Completion of the on-going reconstruction of Oshodi International Airport Road into a 10-lane road
  • The BRT Lane from Oshodi to Abule-Egba

We will consolidate on the Lagos bus reform project with the introduction of high and medium capacity buses, construction and completion of bus depots at Oshodi, Anthony, Yaba and many more.

In the area of job creation, we will construct an ICT Focus Incubator Centre in Yaba while the development of Imota and Igbonla Light Industrial Park as well as the provision of additional small scale industrial estate at Shala will commence. The State Employment Trust Fund will disburse more funds to Lagosians to support business and stimulate the economy.

From feedback of Lagosians, more emphasis will be placed on the successes already recorded by the Employment Trust Fund to get more of our unemployed youths into gainful employment.

The process leading to the movement of Mile 12 market to Imota which commenced in Y2016 has reached an advanced stage and we will complete the infrastructure in the new location in good time to pave way for relocation next year.

We will vigorously pursue our planned direct intervention in the power value chain towards generating 3,000MW Embedded Power Programme; a 3-year plan to achieving 24/7 power supply for the State. The challenge of inadequate power supply must be resolved for our economy to perform optimally and we believe the provision of this essential utility can no longer be left in the hands of the Federal Government alone to solve. We must complement each other for the overall development of our nation.

We will continue to rekindle our efforts in the area of Tourism, Sports, Arts and Culture by ensuring that our objective of making the State the tourism, sporting and entertainment hub of our nation is conscientiously pursued. In order to achieve this we will focus on these projects:

  • Completion of the 5 new Art Theatres in Alimosho, Ikorodu, Badagry, Epe and Ikeja.
  • Establish a Heritage Centre at the former Federal Presidential State House recently handed over to our government
  • Build a world class museum between the fomer Presidential Lodge and the State House, Marina.
  • Fast-track construction of the proposed 4 new stadia in Igbogbo, Epe, Badagry and Ajeromi Ifelodun(Ajegunle).
  • Complete the on-going Epe and Badagry Marina projects that will turn both areas into world class destination for tourists and adventure seekers.

We are mindful of the housing needs of the citizens that is why we are poised on completing all on-going housing projects especially those at Gbagada, Igbogbo, Iponri, Igando, Omole Phase I, Sangotedo and Ajara-Badagry for delivery to our subscribers under the Rent-to-Own policy of this administration.

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, this budget has something for everyone, young and old, man or woman, including the physically challenged in line with our vision of making Lagos work for all. We shall also make massive investments in the area of Healthcare, Health Insurance, Education, Food Security and General Public Service.

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I want to use this opportunity to acknowledge the cooperation and support received from the citizens of Lagos, members of the Business Community, Professional Bodies, Non-governmental Organizations and the State Civil Servants in years past. We thank you all for the support while soliciting for your continuous collaboration.

Our modest achievements so far had been made possible by the citizens that have been paying their taxes willingly and faithfully. It is expedient for me therefore to appeal to all our citizens and corporate entities to perform their civic responsibility by paying their taxes as and when due.

As we commence our Cleaner Lagos Initiative Programme, I strongly appeal to all citizens to embrace the Public Utility Levy that will commence in January 2018 for a cleaner, healthier Lagos.

The success of the proposed 2018 budget will rest on our commitment to succeed, drive to be self -sustaining and accelerate growth in both infrastructural and economic reforms, through revenue enhancement especially on fiscalization of consumption taxes, re-enactment of Land Use Law and implementation of physical planning regulations amongst others. As a result, we all have a huge responsibility at ensuring that the 2018 budgetary estimates become a reality as we take another giant stride in the history of our sustainable fiscal responsibilities.

In line with our tradition, the Honourable Commissioner for Finance will provide further breakdown of the proposed Y2018 budgetary estimates to the public later today.

I have left my commendation and appreciation of the House of Assembly for last so that the message of dutiful and selfless work rendered by this Assembly is well delivered. I am yet to see any House of Assembly in the country that is as dynamic and robust as the Lagos State House of Assembly.

Mr. Speaker, we are grateful for your leadership and continuous cooperation with the other arms of government. Honourable Members, I thank you all for your support.

Mr. Speaker and Honourable Members of this hallowed Chamber, our Royal Fathers, Distinguished Guests, gentlemen of the press, Ladies and Gentlemen, I wish you all Merry Christmas and a prosperous Y2018 in advance. Thank you for listening.

Itesiwaju Ipinle Eko Lo Je wa Logun!!

Akinwunmi Ambode

Governor of Lagos State

Nigeria Must Create 4 Million Jobs Annually To Ensure Growth

Nigeria Must Create 4 Million Jobs Annually To Ensure Growth

Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode on Saturday said for Nigeria to meet its growth ambitions and achieve full economic potential, concerted efforts must be made to create at least four million jobs annually and as well jettison policies that stifle development.

Speaking at the opening session of the 9th Annual Bankers’ Committee Retreat of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) held at Renaissance Hotel in Ikeja, Lagos, Governor Ambode said it was time for the government to review such policies that inhibit growth, and as well come up with a well-functioning low cost financial system that will work for all Nigerians.

While describing the theme of the retreat – “Improving Financial Access, Enabling Job Creation and Driving Inclusive Growth in Nigeria,” as apt, the Governor said same was at the heart of the nation’s economy and are important determinants of the country’s future prosperity, but that all hands must be on deck to create more jobs for the people and ensure 6.7 per cent annual growth rate.

He said: “To meet our growth ambitions we need jobs. Figures from the National Bureau of Statistics show that in employment terms, from a labour force population of about 81million people, we currently have 11.5million people unemployed in Nigeria and 17million people under-employed with the total employment is around 52.6million while the working age population grows by 3.7 per cent every year. So, to make a meaningful dent on un-employment and underemployment, and to reduce poverty (which is at over 60 per cent), we need to be creating at least four million jobs per year.

“Where do banks fit into all of this? Well, the reality is if we do not have a well-functioning banking sector, all of this is not possible. Both investment and day-to-day commerce requires the intermediation of banks. And while someone outside of the formal financial sector can in some cases make a living, the reality is that incomes of the bottom of the pyramid are increased when we have better financial inclusion but we are not there yet.”

The Governor, who particularly alluded to the strategy adopted in Kenya to deepen financial inclusion, said efforts must be made to ensure low cost access to banking services especially through mobile money.

He said it was painful that mobile money had been so slow to take off in Nigeria despite huge population, saying it remained very low, increasing from just 0.7million adults in 2014 to 0.9million in 2016, despite the fact that there were about 58.2million people who actually had mobile phones in 2016.

Besides, Governor Ambode challenged the CBN, the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Commission (NDIC), commercial banks and other players in the financial system to decide the type of financial system that will really impact on employment and bring more people into the formal financial system.

According to him, “This is where we should focus as a nation not the type of directives or decisions that actually try to stifle growth and commerce. One clear example is this; as a State Government, I want to take a commercial loan from the bank and they tell me I should go and get a letter from Debt Management Office (DMO); I should get approval from the Federal Ministry of Finance; I should go to CBN and so on. Who does that?

“You want to accelerate growth and everything that I am doing even when I take loan from the bank; when I do bond and so on, I am only trying to reflate the economy. Each construction site that you see in Lagos, I am trying to create employment at the lower level so that the artisans, the bricklayers and so on can go home with N5,000. I need to do something in Badagry to make the people stay there and not come to the central Lagos and when you take the extra money outside the IGR, you are actually trying to help the economy to reflate itself and that is why you are able to excite yourself with the growth that you have seen in the third quarter that we say is 1.5 but that is not the number that we want.

“So sometimes, government seems to shoot itself in the leg. Why should Lagos State go and be meeting DMO to say I want to take a commercial loan when 80 per cent of my IGR can pay the loan itself back? So, you see that there is some sense of homogeneity in the policies that we make but sometimes they are not really flexible and you end up coming back to say we want to create jobs but the things that create jobs are the things that we are actually working against and you create unnecessary competition in the system.”

Responding to earlier comment by the CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele on the inability of the Micro Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (MSMEs) to access the N200billion fund earmarked for them, Governor Ambode said the easiest way to achieve same was to reduce the lending rate to about five per cent or lower.

He said at the State level, his administration created the Employment Trust Fund through which about N10billion had been disbursed to the MSMEs at five per cent with over 6,000 benefiting so far, saying the CBN could replicate such at the federal level for the overall benefit of the people and the system.