Governor Udom Emmanuel has presented a budget proposal of N597, 800billion for the 2020 fiscal year to Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly with emphasis on education, industrialization and poverty reduction.
The budget which is christened ‘Budget of Industrialisation for poverty alleviation phase 2’, is predicated on the policy thrust to gradually metamorphose Akwa Ibom State from a “Civil Service” State to a largely Private Sector driven State, depending less on statutory allocation as the main source of revenue to the State.
According to the governor, ” this will be achieved by creating more job opportunities through opening up the State to encourage private investments, creating a welcoming environment for investors, strengthening existing industries and establishing new ones, as well as improving our IGR processes and drive. It is expected that these, as well as the provision of basic infrastructures, enhancement of security, development of human capital and boosting services in education and healthcare, will lead to an overall improvement in the living standard of our people”.
An analysis of the budget estimate shows that capital expenditure takes the lead with N369, 642b, making about 61.8 % of the budget while recurrent expenditure is estimated to take N111,225b, making 18.6% while N116,933, making 19.5% has been estimated for consolidated revenue fund charges.
The 2020 budget is however significantly lower than last year’s budget which stood at N672,985. This shortfall, the governor explained is reflective of anchoring the budget on an oil benchmark of $55 per barrel at a production rate of N2.18 million barrels per day, and with an estimated exchange rate of 305/USS, in line with the national budget benchmark projection.
Further analysis of sectoral allocations shows that priority is given to projects and programmes under the Education and Economic sectors.
The governor noted that “education is the bedrock of all developments. It is a pivot on which every human capital development revolves. This administration places a high premium on education and skills development and acquisition”.
On Industrialisation, he said “in the next four years, my administration will intensify efforts and focus in providing a high performance in the industrialization goals we had started in my first term in office.
“We hope to make Akwa Ibom State an industrial hub in our country. In this regard, more energy and vigour will be given to Small and Medium Enterprises to act as drivers of our viable economy. We will make sure that adequate and sufficient modern infrastructural facilities are provided which are quite necessary for effective and efficient industrialization.
Speaking of his intentions to boost Agriculture, he stated that ” In 2020, government intends to carry out the following agricultural programmes and projects; Agro Meteorological Project, Commercial Cattle Development Project, Cocoyam/Avocado Pear Production, Bamboo Development Programme, integrated Farmers Scheme (IFS), Women Agro-Entrepreneurship Development Programme (WAEDEP), Cassava Development Programme, Animal Feed Safety and Certification Programme, Rural Access and Agricultural Marketing Project (RAAMP), Maize Development Programme, Rice Development Project, Agro-Chemical Supply and others”.
Interestingly, Governor Emmanuel hinted that his administration may complete the Ibom Tropicana and Entertainment Galleria left unfinished by his predecessor.
He stated that government will embark on “expansion work at Ibom 5-Star Hotel and Golf Resort and completion of a multi-million Naira Ibom Tropicana Entertainment Centre, complete with Cineplex, galleria, malls, dry and wet parks, hotels and convention centre”, adding that efforts are currently in progress to get private investors to take up the running of the facility.
Emmanuel said the 2020 budget is further anchored on his Eight-Point policy thrust which rests squarely on his initial Five-Point Agenda that shaped his First Term in office to wit; Job Creation, Poverty Alleviation, Wealth Creation, Economic and Political Inclusion, and Infrastructural Consolidation and Expansion for continuous transformation of the State into an industrialized entity.”
“We are committed to complete all our ongoing projects and other star projects in our completion agenda”, he assured.
The Speaker, Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Mr Aniekan Bassey applauded Governor Udom Emmanuel for the purposeful implementation of the 2019 budget and pledged to ensure a speedy consideration and passage of the 2020 appropriation budget.
He, however, charged the various Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDGs) to ensure they provide all the necessary supporting budget data and stick to the time table that will be announced by the house for their appearance.
On his part, the leader of the state Assembly Udo Kierian Akpan said the Governor has been able to bring about accountability in governance and promised that he and his colleagues will continue to support his efforts in service.