The Chukwuma Soludo administration on Tuesday defended its decision to revise the state budget less than two months after it took over power from the administration of former governor Willie Obiano.
The governor had last week upped the budget from the former governor’s N142 billion package, to N170 billion, devoting a major chunk of the Capital expenditure to infrastructure especially roads.
Some quarters have alleged that the revision coming so quick means Soludo is not comfortable with the budget of the former governor, which they acknowledged was poorly done and not reflecting realities on ground.
But while fielding questions from journalists at a breakdown of the revised draft budget in Awka, the State Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget, Mrs Chiamaka Nnake, explained that the revision was to reflect the priorities of the development agenda of Governor Soludo.
She said while both Soludo and Obiano are of the same political party, they are of different administrations, with different development agenda, hence the need to tailor the budget to suit Soludo’s blueprint.
“Soludo has a mandate well-articulated in his Soludo Solution blueprint, so the revision was geared towards reflecting those prioties.
“This will drive the agenda the incumbent governor is pursuing,” she explained.
On the issue of reduction of the budget for Health and Education, the Anambra Economic Planning and Budget Commissioner, noted that the government does not see it as reduction but as rechanneling resources to where the priorities are as at today and leveraging partnerships as much as it can.
On how the present administration intends to manage the over N120 billion, amidst its plans to fund 40 percent of the budget through loans, the Commissioner revealed that the revised budget was designed in a way that every loan is targeted at Capital expenditure, to ensure that there is return on investment and not for the loans to be channeled to Recurrent expenditure where the monies are spent and they vanish.
The Commissioner revealed that the revised budget was premised on the same Medium Term Expenditure Framework, MTEF, as nothing in the negative has happened for the country since the last year’s budget.
“What we submitted to the House of Assembly also had the MTEF embedded especially in consideration of the present realities on ground.
“Analyses we did was more like a balance effect.
“The oil price increased beyond the envisaged benchmark of $67 per barrel to over a hundred dollar.
“However, the production was planned at 169 and currently we are at 1.3 billion per day, so that’s more like an in and out.
“So on a balancing effect, we don’t see significant changes so that became the basis for our analysis,” she noted.
Nnake whose Ministry is also in charge of development partners in the state, said the state has set out N5 billion naira to attract development partners’ interventions in critical sectors such Health, Education, ICT among others.
On the overall budget which she said will be funded by 24% IGR, 36% Federal allocation and 40% loan, the Commissioner said the capital expenditure presently accounts for 64% of the revised budget compared to 57% in the previous budget.
“Capital expenditure increased by 33% from N81 billion to N108 billion and about 60% of the capital budget is targeted at delivering infrastructure that the average citizen can feel, see, use or touch and which have the highest developmental impact.
“Recurrent expenditure increased marginally by 0.79% from N60.9 billion to N61.4 billion.
“The 0.79% increase in recurrent expenditure is due to an increase in personnel cost for the salary of teachers and health workers who are currently being recruited. Otherwise, every other recurrent cost stays flat,” she revealed.
Nnake gave specifics on the budgetary allocation across the key priority areas.
“Works: About N54 billion or about 50% of the Capital budget is for the Ministry of Works and Infrastructure and we intend to simultaneously invest in roads in most of the local governments, paying special attention to our urban regeneration agenda.
“Transport – To support traffic decongestion and road management, the budget for transport was increased by 61% to N1.6bn
“Security and Law and Order: We left the budget on security unchanged at N9bn while we count on off budget resources from donations to augment.
“Water and Power – We have allocated N2.3bn
“Community Choose your project – We have budgeted 25 million per Community
“Youth – The budget for the Youth increased by over 300% to N2.4bn for commencing the programme on creating 1,000 youth Millionaires per annum (apprentices and traders)
“ICT – ICT budget increased by over 700% to N1.3bn to commence the ICT-Businesses Innovation Hubs and training of 100,000 Youths.
“Agriculture – We have budgeted N700mn to commence the annual Oil Palm and Coconut Revolution
“Education- We would be recruiting and training teachers and renovating some schools. We budgeted N1.1bn
“Healthcare – We will be employing doctors/health workers; upgrading hospitals. We budgeted a N2.9bn
“Reforming/Digitizing IGR Collection – We budgeted N1.2bn for reforming and digitizing IGR collection process
“We budgeted N2.5bn for setting up a leisure/entertainment park in Agulu-Lake
“We budgeted N4bn for continuing work at the Airport
“We budgeted N2bn for construction of new Government House and Governor’s Lodge
“We plan to meet our counterpart funds with development partners. We have budgeted N5bN in Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning for Counterpart fund for the State.”