…to spend N3.8billion on HIV/AIDS, targets N1tr budget in 2018
From: Moshood Adebayo
Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State has revealed that the state saved about N2.4 billion from the ban on sponsorship of plilgrimages to the holy lands in Saudi Arabia and Israel.
The state government had, last year, banned state-sponsored pilgrimage, either to Mecca or Jerusalem.
The decision, according to the state government, was informed by the current economic challenges, where it would be “most irresponsible” to spend taxpayers’ money on sponsoring pilgrimage.
The governor, who spoke through the Commissioner for Home Affairs, Abdulateef Abdulhakeem, said the saved money had been deployed for more developmental projects.
His words: “both directly and indirectly, the government has been able to save about N2.4 billion from being wasted on such expenditure and has been deployed into provision of infrastrucural facilities in the transformational agenda of the state government”.
He added that the state government had commenced the process of gathering data of religious organisations and their locations in the state to be able to set standards, give orientation and provide security for them.
The commissioner also dis losed that sales of form for this year pilgrimage to Mecca is still on and urged intending pigrms to visit the ministry.
Meanwhile, the commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget, Akinyemi Ashade, has disclosed that the state has budgeted N3.8 billion to tackle the scourge of HIV/AIDS in the state.
The budget, according to him was the financial support the state received from the Global Fund to fight HIV infections and assured that the grant would be judiciously used.
Specifically, he said the grant will be for 70 health facilities in three local government areas of the stste including, Ee, Ikorodu and Oshodi/Isolo.
“We want to reassure of our commitment to the judicious use of the grant meant to reduce new HIV infections and improve the quality of life for the infected, affected and to place 10, 337 number of people living with HIV (PLHIVs) on treatment of which 3, 876 are children, knowing full well that a healthy population drives goal and development.” he said.
The commissioner also revealed that the state targets a trillion naira budget for next year, just as he reinstated the commitment of the Ambode-led administration to increase the IGR to N50 billion in 2018