BudgIT apologises to Lagos over misrepresentation of finances

Civic advocacy group, BudgIT, has apologised to the Lagos State Government for a misrepresentation in its latest State of States Report.

In the report, which it made public last Thursday, the organisation included Lagos among states with recurrent deficit, borrowing to pay salaries.

But in a series of tweets on Sunday, the organisation said it has retracted the previous graphic on the ability of states to meet their recurrent expenditure it circulated as part of the report.

According to Gabriel Okeowo, BudgIT’s CEO and Principal Lead, “No single metric, when isolated, provides a fair assessment of any state; and none of the tests we used evaluates state’s fiscals for insolvency.”

BudgIT said it is therefore compelled to tender its unreserved apologies to Lagos government for the misrepresentation that trailed the state in the report.

“Indeed, @followlasg (Lagos State Government) cannot be included in the category of States with a recurrent deficit; thus, not borrowing to pay salaries,” BudgIT said.

“Our metrics focused on NET FAAC and IGR as published by the National Bureau of Statistics due to the disparate nature of revenue framework among Nigerian states.

“We also apologise for including a special debt financing program as part of the recurrent expenditure which might be a total representation of its finances.”

BudgIT says it affirms that “Lagos State remains way ahead of many of its peers in terms of fiscal health and the capacity to generate revenue internally; and it also has the least dependency on federally collected revenue distributed through FAAC allocations.”

The report, published Thursday, showed that Oyo, Osun, Ekiti and 10 other states were unable to fund their recurrent expenditure and their loan repayment schedules due in 2019 with their respective revenues.

The report said that of the 13 states, the worst-hit were Oyo, Kogi, Osun and Ekiti states while the other states on this pendulum are Plateau, Adamawa, Bauchi, Gombe, Cross River, Benue, Taraba and Abia.

The report is BudgIT’s signature analysis that provides policymakers with robust insights on ways to implement financial and institutional reforms that will improve states’ fiscal performance and sustainability level.

BudgIT’s State of States report is a snapshot of the fiscal health of all 36 states in the country and it uses four metrics or stress tests to provide a fair overall Fiscal Sustainability Ranking of all the states.

On Sunday, BudgIT said it has commenced a review of the erroneous graphic misrepresenting the financial position of Lagos State.

“We regret this inconvenience; hence, the previous design is hereby retracted and a review has been commissioned by our research team,” the organisation said.

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