Governor Babatunde Fashola
By Gboyega Akinsanmi
The Lagos State Government has rolled out fresh statistics of its domestic economy, noting that about 90 per cent of businesses operating in the state “are locked outside the formal sectors”.
Consequently, the state government unveiled comprehensive institutional reforms, designed to formalise the state’s informal sector and integrate about one million actors operating in the sector.
Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Mrs. Olusola Oworu, disclosed the plan at a training organised in collaboration with Institute of Liberty and Democracy (ILD) for the contract workers, who will carry out a study on the challenges of informal sector with a view to tackling them.
Oworu, who addressed the trainees along Permanent Secretary, Mr. Wale Raji, and the institute’s Senior Economic Research, Mr. Enrique Daiz, also said there “is a gap in the number of people paying tax in the state.”
She noted that about 8 million people “should be paying taxes to the state government contrary to the 3 million that pay their taxes regularly,” acknowledging that it was difficult to track what is being lost to the sector.
She explained that the challenge “to the government is why are these large numbers of people in the state not paying taxes despite the fact that they benefitting from the state infrastructures with funds from taxpayers”.
She acknowledged that the actors in the informal sectors “are facing a lot of problems. They have problem of accessing funds. They have some constraints because they sit on several capitals, but the capital does not have title, without which they cannot approach financial institutions for funds”.
She noted that some of the things, which she said the state government was doing “is to find out the various constraints confronting the actors in the informal sector. “While they cannot come into the formal sector” we want to whether it is paper work or the processes involved.
“At the end of the day after studying the informal sector, they will come up with a report. From the report, they will proffer solutions and that will be the second stage. So, there will be some institutional reforms that will take place that we have to embark upon so that more people will move from the informal sector to the formal sector,” Oworu explained.
She said the benefits of the programme “are huge. Over two-third of the world population are poor. What we are trying to do is to eradicate poverty in the state. We want to lift residents of the state above poverty line. If we fail to include these people in the legal system, it is at the peril of the state government.
“At the end of the day, the rich and the poor will be ready to benefit from the infrastructure provided by the government. Essentially, this is all about poverty eradication and not for taxes. It is centred on improving the businesses of the residents of Lagos state,” she said.