Lagos redeems N57.5bn bonds ―Commissioner

Lagos State government said on Monday that it has redeemed its N57.5billion bond in line with its avowed commitment to continue to pay and service its debt obligations as at when due.

The bond, which matured on the 19th of April 2017, findings show, marked the maturity of the N57.5billion 2010/2017 Series 2 Program I bond.

Commissioner for Finance, Mr Akinwunmi Ashade, disclosed this while speaking at the 2017 Ministerial Press Briefing held at Bagauda Kaltho Press Centre, Alausa, as part of activities making the 2nd year in office of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode’s administration.

Ashade disclosed that the state had accumulated over N103, 415billion in its sinking fund accounts managed by independent trustees for the redemption of its other outstanding bonds which would mature in future.

According to him, these include the N80billion, N87billion and N47billion bonds redeemable in November 2019, November 2020 and December 2023 respectively.

“Lagos State has now redeemed N107.5billion of outstanding bonds, creating headroom for further issuances to support the acceleration of the state’s investment in improved physical and social infrastructure and amenities. The state remains committed to and is proud of its reputation as a most responsible issuer in the Nigerian capital markets.

“The state government used N17billion to service its debt in 2016 and would continue to fulfill its obligation as and when due. The present administration in the state has continued to ensure a strong and healthy debt sustainability regime leading to improve local and international ratings for the state and its debt instruments,” he said.

Ashade also disclosed that the state government had transited in May 2016 from bullet payment to amortized payment to free up funds and reduce the state’s liabilities annually by paying bondholders principal plus coupon interest in installments.

He stated further that the government had equally restructured its internal loan portfolio with commercial banks in 2015 to 10- year tenor at a competitive rate of 12 per cent from an average 7-year tenor at 17 per cent, stressing that this had, however, been eroded because of adverse monetary policy rates by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

He expressed optimism that Lagos State would continue to enjoy good rates and tenor commercially with its current rating locally and internationally.

Speaking further, the commissioner disclosed that Governor Aknwunmi Ambode had introduced a Central Billing System as part of efforts to curb multiple-taxation and its effect on businesses in the state.

Ashade explained that the Central Billing system is an official platform created to generate bills centrally for Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government as well as facilitate the monitoring of revenue accruable to MDAs, improve collections through the introduction of various payment gateways to minimize revenue shortfalls, increase human capacity efficiencies and ultimately expand the Internally Generated Revenue of the State.

He said the state government had also embarked on advocacy campaign to educate the people on various taxes and rates and convenient ways of making such payment, adding that Yoruba and Pigin languages were introduced in the bill for easy information dissemination on taxes and rates.

He pointed out that not all taxes were multiple, assuring that the issue of multiple taxes would soon be a thing of the past.

While affirming the commitment of the state government to effective financial risk management and leveraging on private sector participation towards achieving the needs and aspirations of government and people of Lagos State, the commissioner emphasised that the present administration would continue to make the necessary investment for the emergence of Lagos State as a prime global destination for iconic infrastructure, enabling environment, tourism and other social amenities in accordance with the needs of a modern mega city.

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