…as Okowa tasks State Chief Executives on fiscal discipline
By Festus Ahon – Asaba
Vice President Yemi Osibanjo, yesterday said key economic measures must be taken by both the federal and state governments in order to pull the country out of the poverty, saying the nation must diversify its mono economic principle on over reliance on oil wealth.
He said reliance on oil was not only unsustainable, lamenting that it was not also capable of creating jobs and building enduring infrastructure that would support rapid economic growth.
Speaking during the 18th Joint Planning Board and National Council on Development Planning meeting in Asaba, the Delta State capital, Osinbajo stressed the need for the Federal, State and Local Governments to collaborate in the fight against poverty in the country.
According to him, a synergy among federal, state and local governments was imperative so that citizens could be productively engaged and lifted out of poverty, urging States in the country to improve tax administration and widen tax nets to make it easier for people to pay taxes and spur development.
He commended the organisers for the theme of the meeting: “State Fiscal Sustainability and Economic Diversification in Nigeria”, adding that the theme was timely and at the core of governance at all levels.
Osinbajo said; “Over the years, the level of funding at the Federal Accounts Allocation Committee, FAAC has fluctuated and federal revenue, including annual Internally Generated Revenue cannot meet the needed development in the states.
“So, states must overcome these fiscal challenges that they face by engaging in fiscal strategic planning and identify areas they have comparative advantages.
“They should also take advantage of the entrepreneur skills of Nigerians by empowering economic clusters of small businesses with infrastructure, tools and equipment.”
Governor Ifeanyi Okowa who also spoke at the meeting, said it was imperative for state chief executives to imbibe the culture of fiscal discipline, pointing out that without such, there could be no fiscal sustainability.
He stated that observation of fiscal rules was the first step to achieving fiscal sustainability, adding that annual budgets of States must be derived from the Fiscal Strategy Paper in line with Fiscal Responsibility Law.
“In Delta State, we have adhered strictly to this law and all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) are required to align their projects and programmes with available resources in short, medium and long term.
“This will eliminate the deficit and restore the health of our public finances. Most importantly, we have kept the size of the budget realistic and realisable while projects are embarked upon based on their economic and social value.
“It is a continuous exercise with us to match our expenditure commitments to projects with existing revenue streams,’’ saying that citizens in the state were “imbibing the principles of skills acquisition and entrepreneurship as a viable employment option based on our entrepreneurship programmes.
“They are now looking beyond and outside their academic certificates for employment and livelihoods as owners and managers of skills-based enterprises. This cuts across all segments of the society – unemployed youths, workers, micro, small and medium enterprises, pensioners, widows, Persons with Disabilities (PwDs), students, traders and farmers.”