From Tony Igbokwe, Port Harcourt
Rivers State governor, Mr. Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, has presented a N448, 660,773,476 budget for 2021 fiscal year to the state House of Assembly for consideration and approval.
The proposed 2021 budget christened: ‘Budget of Recovery and Consolidation,’ is made up of N305, 894, 284.061 for capital expenditure, while N142, 776,489,415 is earmarked as recurrent expenditure.
Governor Wike, while presenting the budget to lawmakers at the Assembly in Port Harcourt recently said the budget represents more than 20 per cent increase over last year’s revised document of N300 billion.
He said the capital expenditure, representing 68.18 per ecnt of the total budget size, constituted as follows: administrative sector, N 87, 790,330,011.37; economic sector, N105,077,364,248,.81; law and justice N1,742,996,000.00; social sector – N 132, 656,033,322.35 and deductions/loan repayments, N38,000,000,000.00.
The governor explained that the capital budget will be deployed to advance economic growth and social progress by targeting and prioritizing investments.
He said the sum of N82, 957,295,248.81 has been provided for the provision of infrastructure, including roads, bridges, and completion of flyover projects at Okoro-Nu-Odo, Rumuola, Rumuogba and Port Harcourt GRA Junction.
“We will also deliver the Ogoni-Andoni-Opobo Unity Road, the Eastern Bypass dualization, sixth and seventh flyover projects and the Wakama Road as well as all other ongoing rural roads in our communities and local government areas across the state,” he stated.
The governor stated that over N6 billion has been provided in the budget to stimulate economic growth through investments in commerce, culture and tourism, mineral resource development as well as address environmental challenges to improve the quality of life of all residents.
Similarly, he said N13, 861,407,451.97 has been provided to fund various social and economic investment schemes to support the development of small and medium scale businesses as part of efforts to create jobs and reduce poverty.
The governor noted that economic challenges of the COVD-19 pandemic clearly exposed the state vulnerability to food insecurity.
Hence, he said, the sum of N16, 107, 080, 000 would be spent on targeted investments in the agriculture value chain in a bid to create employment and enhance collective food security of the state.
In cognizance that quality public education remains the key to breaking cycles of poverty, the governor said his administration has decided to prioritize the sector in the 2021 budget with the provision of N30,000,000,000 to boost infrastructure, enhance access and retention rates and improve educational outcomes in schools throughout the state.
The governor hinted that the state government has provided N25, 111, 728, 000 for health care services for 2021 fiscal year.
According to him, government will focus on completing the four zonal referral hospitals at Ahoada, Bori, Degema, Okehi and Omoku, which are all at advanced stages of completion.
Governor Wike, explained that the 2021 budget will also prioritize security and sustain the existing efforts in combating insecurity and keeping residents safe and secure.
He said the recurrent expenditure of N142, 776,489,415 represents 31.82 per cent of the 2021 budget, adding that out of the sum, N76,198,906,179 is for personnel costs; N18,863,016,430, for overheads and N47,704,566,804 would be for grants and transfers to the consolidated revenue charges.
“From inception, this administration has prioritized the payment of salaries and pensions and I wish to assure our workers, including the proposed 5,000 new enlistments, that they will receive their salaries as when due in 2021. “Ministries, Departments and Agencies are also assured of prompt release of overheads to enable them run effectively and deliver services to the people,” said the governor.
He explained that the country is currently in its second recession in five years with headline inflation at 14 per cent.
He however said the Federal Government has projected that the country would exit the recession in the first quarter of next year.
The governor said the policy thrust for the year 2021 budget would be to accelerate economic recovery, drive growth and create opportunities for social progress; enhance human capital development and tackle poverty; build first class infrastructures to accelerate the nation’s socio-economic development.
He expressed optimism that the measures in the budget would place the state on a stronger economic footing towards achieving the new vision of the state for a peaceful, secure, inclusive and prosperous society.
He said the budget would be funded from Statutory Allocation, 13 per cent Oil Mineral Fund, internally generated revenue, value added tax, refunds for federal projects and excess crude oil deductions, domestic and foreign credit as well as grants from development partners.
Commenting on the performance of last year’s budget, Governor Wike disclosed that at the end of October of the same year, a total net revenue collected by the state was N226,522,031,922.45, representing about 75 per cent overall proportional performance.
“While receipts from federal allocations declined, internally generated revenue overshot the budget projections by over N20, 000,000,000 despite the pause we placed on the payment of taxes by the informal sector and small businesses,” he told the lawmakers.
The Speaker of the Assembly, Rt. Hon. Ikuinyi Ibani, lauded Governor Wike’s commitment towards transforming the state’s economy.
According to him, generations to come will live to acknowledge his good deeds.
The Speaker further assured Governor Wike that they would diligently consider and pass the budget to facilitate the continued development of the state.
Present at the budget presentation were the state deputy governor, Mrs Ipalibo Harry Banigo; Secretary to the State Government, Dr. Tammy Danagogo; the State PDP chairman, Amb. Desmond Akwor and members of the state Executive Council.