Governor Chukwuma Soludo on Thursday presented the revised 2022 budget of N170 billion to the Anambra State House of Assembly.

The budget tagged ‘Taking off from the blocks’ represents a significant increase from the N141.9 billion approved budget presented by former Governor Willie Obiano in October last year, christened ‘Continuity, Sustainability and Development of a New Anambra’.

A breakdown of the figure shows that Capital expenditure accounts for 64% of the total revised budget size, increasing by 33% from N81 billion to N108 billion, while Recurrent expenditure took the remaining chunk, increasing marginally by 0.79% from N60 billion.

A greater chunk of the budget totaling N52 billion (about 60% of the Capital Expenditure), was dedicated to infrastructure, in keeping with Soludo’s state of emergency declared on the poor state of Anambra roads.

Presenting the budget, Governor Soludo said the revision is to reflect current realities, challenges, and priorities of the new administration and Ndi Anambra, insisting that he is undaunted by the poor state of the treasury.

He said his government has seriously started reforming the system of tax administration in the state, to significantly ramp up the internally generated revenue over the coming years, saying the dire needs of Ndi Anambra and his transformation agenda cannot wait.

On how he will fund the budget given the poor state of the state purse, Soludo explained that he is working on a mixture of financing options, including debt to fund bankable projects as well as infrastructure with impacts on the economy.

“Among the challenges we inherited, a red treasury and pervasive insecurity especially with criminals taking the seven local governments of the south senatorial zone hostage were the most acute.

“We have chosen to confront the foundational issue of security head-on and expected that those profiting from the lucrative criminal enterprise would viciously fight back, and they have.

“We are working on a mixture of financing options (including debt that is ring-fenced to fund bankable projects and/or infrastructure with impacts on the economy) to guarantee efficient and effective service delivery to our people while ensuring fiscal sustainability over the medium to longer terms.

“The details of these will be laid out in our 2023 budget,” he said.

The governor said as a reflection of his agenda, about 60% of the Capital Expenditure is targeted at delivering infrastructure that the average citizen can feel, see, use or touch and which have the highest developmental impact within the shortest possible time.

He said; “For example, we have declared a state of emergency on rebuilding our road infrastructure and traffic management.

“About N52 billion or about 31% of the total 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.  “We have requested the Federal Government to kindly intervene on emergency basis on a number of federal roads in the state that have become nightmarish death traps.

“We confidently expect their urgent responsive action.

“But in the event that the expected response does not come soon, we may have to implement urgent palliatives in some places especially at Amansea; Ekwulobia- Igboukwu- Nnobi road; Ogidi; etc where the roads are literally cutting off.”

Soludo revealed plans by his government to recruit qualified medical doctors and nurses for the general hospitals and upscale the infrastructure in selected ones.

He also disclosed that the state has already received over 26,000 applications in response to it advertisement to recruit and train teachers for the primary and secondary schools.

According to him, Visitation panels will review the operations of the State University, Polytechnic and College of Education to provide basis for our reforms to ensure that they are fit for purpose.

“As a precursor to our planned Entertainment and Leisure City (envisaged to be largest in Africa), we have budgeted in the interim to construct an expansive Entertainment and leisure park around the Agulu Lake.

“Yes, our administration is continuing with the ‘Community Choose Your Project’ initiative of my predecessor, and have raised the value of the community projects to N25 million per community.

“Furthermore, to drive our “Everything Technology, and Technology Everywhere” strategy, the budget provides for a modern centralized ICT Data Centre to consolidate the State’s data and ensure business continuity in any and all circumstances.

“We are commencing the digitization of our land registry. Our agenda to deliberately orchestrate the emergence and empowerment of thousands of youth millionaires and a digital tribe is given its first impetus in this revised budget.

“We promised to reinvent the Oil Palm and Coconut revolution.

“We have mobilized communities and the private sector for partnership and with overwhelming demand, we plan to provide 500,000—1,000,000 seedlings this year, and millions in subsequent years. We have also provided for significant seed money to commence pre-feasibility studies and designs for bankable projects, including possible new cities,” he said.

The Anambra helmsman promised that fiscal prudence will become a lifestyle under his watch, as the state cannot afford to waste one kobo, while transparent public finance management will be critical.

According to him, that is why his government has also budgeted for the full computerization of the Ministry of Finance and the Office of the Accountant-General.

He however noted that managing the state’s over N120 billion debt, especially the contractor debt and pension liabilities in the context of the paltry Federation Account receipts and burgeoning needs of Anambra people, will task his administration’s dexterity and demand hard choices and sacrifice.

He revealed that his government has just received the preliminary report of the external consultants’ review of the local government finances which confirms that the combined state and local government gratuity liabilities to pensioners over N20 billion.

“We are determined to clean the books over time and align Anambra’s pension administration with the Pension Act and let our pensioners smile.

“In the meantime, our administration has signaled a new dawn by insisting that we won’t owe new retirees under my watch, while we have also started (albeit gradually) paying down the backlog.

“Our government is very serious in forging new development partnerships with the international development partners, the federal government, as well as the local government.

“We are reforming our processes and ramping up our active engagements to maximize the benefits of such partnerships.  For example, we have budgeted to meet our counterpart funding requirements to access federal and development partner funds.

“We are also working hard to restructure and reform our local government administration in conformity with the relevant laws. We will actively collaborate with the local governments in the areas of waste management; cleaner, greener and more environmentally sustainable communities; street lighting; fire service; qualitative primary school education; as well as planned modern markets, and security.

“Community government will be strengthened and mainstreamed. Already, the State is forging new (sustainable) economic partnership with communities not only with the ‘community choose your project’ initiative but now with the new community-based but jointly owned Oil Palm and Coconut plantations that will soon adorn the state,” Soludo promised.

The Speaker of the House, Right Hon. Uche Okafor assured that the House will expeditiously attend to the revised draft state budget, to enable the governor meet his promises to Anambra people.