By Chukwumeke Okwuagwu
IN a society where the delay in the passage of appropriation bill has become a norm for government at all levels, Delta State has reshaped the narrative with its 2018 budget.
It was a development that came as a surprise in the country considering the multiplicity of factors that constantly frustrate quick passage of budgets.
Such factors are even more obvious in state s where the relationship between the executive and legislature, is often characterized by crisis and ambiguities.
However, the story is different in Delta as the harmonious relationship between the two key arms resulted in the early passage of N308,88,558,898 billion budget.
While it remains a surprise, those familiar with the dynamics of governance in the state attributed the feat to hard work, commitment and robust synergy between the executive and the legislative arms.
One of such persons is a key player in the state, Dr. Kingsley Emu, who is the Commissioner for Economic Planning.
He explained it thus: ‘’The early passage of the budget, I can tell you, is a product of hard work, commitment and robust synergy between the executive and the legislative arms of government.
“From the day one of this administration, we had our programmes carefully laid out. Medium term development plan was on time for three years (2016-2019). We had all the various policy committees put together just as we had our FSP immediately after the Federal Government gave hint on the exchange rate volume. So, it became very easy for us to collate
“First, as the economic planning team, we do a lot of quarterly report from all segments. By June this year, we had embarked on meetings with the various Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) in the state, particularly with the Permanent Secretaries preparatory to the 2018 budget.
“Also, the template for the collation was given out and they were given one month for return. By the end of August, this year, all the documents that we needed were ready. Having determined what we planned to do next year and putting it into the Medium Term development plan, it became much easier for us to address the budget issues that we had.
“More so, after our various meeting with the various Permanent Secretaries, and the DPRs, we further met with the various commissioners where the budget was debated extensively.
“Summarily, I can say that this was achieved as a result of cooperation between the commissioners and the State House of Assembly. It therefore, goes to show that with cooperation, we can do a lot more in the state”
An in-depth analysis of the budget which was passed six weeks after it was presented by Delta State governor, Sen Ifeanyi Okowa showed that it had all the key ingredients of SMART Agenda which prioritized prosperity for all Deltans.
Specifically, the following areas were given priority in the 2018 budget: health, capital territory development, education, agriculture, road infrastructure and job creation scheme among others.
The prioritization of the aforementioned areas, is such that has continued to generate excitement in the state and beyond, given the believe that successes in such areas would translate in prosperity for Deltans.
Interestingly, the proposed capital expenditure estimates for 2018 is N150.6bn.
The proposal is N14.1bn or 9.39% higher than the 2017 capital budget of N136.4bn.
In what seemed like an affirmation that the budget is not all about spending public fund for the public good, the sum of N71 billion is projected as the Internally Generated Revenue, IGR, in 2018.
An excerpt from the budget reads: ‘’The reforms we are undertaking in revenue collection, the plugging of leakages in all revenue sources, as well as the anticipated return of oil producing companies to Delta State, are expected to impact positively on our IGR in the forthcoming year. It is, therefore, our projection to generate the sum of N71.3bn as internally generated revenue in 2018, representing 23.94% of the total projected revenues. The IGR estimates for 2018 is higher than the 2017 approved estimates by N1.1b or 1.67%.
‘’ Using the forecast derived from the State’s Fiscal Strategy Paper as a guide, the sum of N178.1bn or 59.73% of projected total revenue for the 2018 fiscal year is expected to come from Statutory Allocation. This amount is more than the sum of N148.9bn projected for the 2017 fiscal year by N29.1bn or 16.35%.”
“The increase is based on the optimism that the current peaceful atmosphere in the Niger Delta region will be sustained and that, with the relative peace being experienced, some of the oil companies who vacated the region will return to the State. It is also our realistic expectation that the gradual improvements the Federal Government has recorded in the agriculture and manufacturing sectors will continue to impact positively on the overall expected returns in the 2018 fiscal year.
“The proposal for Capital Receipts for the 2018 budget has been scaled down from the sum of N64.8bn in the 2017 budget to N37.9bn or 71.09% in 2018. The reduction is hinged on the overriding objective to reduce the loan burden on the State.
“The proposed recurrent expenditure estimates for 2018 of N147.5bn is made up of personnel costs of N64.3bn or 43.36%, and overhead costs of N46.8bn or 31.56%. The Consolidated Revenue Fund Charges has a proposed sum of N37.23bn or 25.09%.
“The proposed capital expenditure estimates for 2018 is N150.6bn.The proposal is N14.1bn or 9.39% higher than the 2017 capital budget of N136.4bn.
“In the 2018 fiscal year, we shall consolidate on the successes of the job creation programmes. A significant percentage of our funding, going forward, will come from SEEFOR. While the programme implementation will be intensified and strengthened, attention will be given to the monitoring and mentorship of already established businesses to ensure their lasting success.
“The sum of N1.2bn is provided to sustain the Scheme in the 2018 fiscal year. In line with our growth aspirations, the sum of N49.3b is earmarked in the proposed 2018 budget to sustain the current momentum in road infrastructure (including drains).
“My statement on the day of my inauguration as Governor remains relevant today as we pursue economic diversification of our economy. On that day I said: “The need to diversify our economy and reduce undue dependence on the proceeds from oil has become quite urgent, and this is one agenda that this administration shall give great attention to… We are committed to the building and consolidation of a state in which there shall be more employment opportunities, a flourishing agriculture, and agribusiness sector.” Approximately N1.66bn is provided in the budget in the 2018 fiscal year for the Ministry of Agriculture.
“Delta State has 1,021 primary and 469 secondary schools with 443,813 pupils and 332,760 students respectively.
“As indicated earlier, several of these schools have been renovated, furnished and new ones built. Between SUBEB and Ministry of Basic Education, Government has so far spent in excess of N16bn in this respect.
“In the 2018 fiscal year, the sum N18.7bn is allocated to the education sub-sector for capital projects. Our guiding philosophy for this sector is the establishment of a qualitative, affordable and accessible health care delivery system in the State. Hence we are focussing on the infrastructural development of our hospitals and primary health care centres, as well as the procurement of drugs and cutting edge medical equipment in major healthcare facilities across the three Senatorial Districts.As we celebrate the notable achievements in the last two-and-half years, we are also mindful of the fact that there is still plenty of work to be done. Many families are still reeling from the harsh effects of the recession. Many of our youths are leaving school without the skills they need for the 21st century marketplace.
“Many small scale businesses are struggling to stay afloat. Therefore, we must give serious attention to putting our people to work and providing the enabling environment for small enterprises to thrive. This administration is determined to build a more prosperous, inclusive and secure Delta State.”
Irrespective of the excitement over this quick passage, it is imperative that state that sustenance of the factors leading to this feat should be encouraged by all stakeholders in the state.
In summary, the implication of the early passage is that implantation of government policies in the next fiscal year, will happen seamlessly and eventually translate into big results.
Chukwumeke Okwuagwu writes from Asaba Okowabudget..6/12/2017