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…Infrastructural projects were not funded with commercial bank loans

…You need a specially intelligent leader like Governor Umahi to be prudent

By Peter Okutu, Abakaliki

Ebonyi State Government, Tuesday explained that it has embarked on the use of multiple measures to reduce payroll fraud, including the deployment of technology with BVN and biometric records.

It added that even though the issue of payroll fraud was affecting most states in the country, the Umahi-led administration has “consistently worked to reduce the incidence of ghost workers and other forms of payroll fraud in the State.

“The payroll fraud mentioned is the case for every state, not just in Ebonyi State. It varies in degrees from state to state. We have consistently worked to reduce the incidence of ghost workers and other forms of payroll fraud.

“This administration has engaged in the use of multiple measures to reduce payroll fraud, including the deployment of technology with BVN and biometric records. In a recent World Bank program assessment, the report shows that our data system has improved and the state has also achieved the grant set for this World Bank program. As for the incidences, I can only tell you that we are very poised to cut down on them as our plans on curbing fraud will not be mentioned here.”

The Commissioner for Finance and Economic Development, Ebonyi State, Mr Orlando Okechukwu Nweze stated this in an interview with Newsmen in Abakaliki.

On Ebonyi State Fiscal Performance Rating, Orlando explained that “Ebonyi State rose to second place in the current rankings, from sixth place in 2020 and thirteenth place in 2019” adding that the State was “developing steadily and would continue to work hard to sustain the growth performance.”

According to him, the economic feat was achieved as the State improved on its Internally Generated Revenue, IGR and further prioritized capital expenditures over operational expenses.

“We happen to be among the first five states in which capital expenditures figure out the number of operational expenditures figures. Rivers, Anambra, Cross River, and Kaduna are the other four states.

“Despite the fiscal shocks from the COVID-19 pandemic across the country and world, we generated total internally generated revenue of N13.59 billion in 2020, an increase of 82.03 per cent over the N7.46 billion IGR we recorded in 2019. This outperforms our IGR growth of 21.33 per cent from N6.14 billion in 2018 to N7.46 billion in 2019. Nevertheless, we have a lot of work to do in adding more growth, but you will agree with me that this is a laudable feat.”

In his words: “It is indeed heart-warming to see that the strive by our dear governor to change the narratives in Ebonyi state is making profound headway. In this aspect, we were adjudged to have comparatively limited dependence on federally distributed revenue for our operations and thus have greater viability potential as a state.

“It is very important to note that, right from the onset of this administration, His Excellency Engr Chief David Umahi had a clear-cut plan on what he wanted to achieve for the state in different areas. Ebonyi’s economy has grown steadily as a result of these policies. In this rating, We worked very hard to grow our internally generated revenue while taking significant steps to cut down on operating expenses.

“In addition, we are promoting economic prosperity in the state through our direct labour work, and it is invariably increasing our earnings from Value Added Tax. Generally, we have increased independent revenue by at least 80% over the past year. While we round off this administration, we have increased the tempo of our efforts to create channels for more wealth for the state through the markets, mall, health institutions, etc.”

On the measures put in place to guarantee a low debt burden for the State, the Commissioner for Finance said: “This administration decided to work very hard to increase other known sources of revenue and innovate new ways and sources of independent revenue, instead of increasing the size of commercial bank term loans.

“None of these mind-blowing infrastructures were or are funded with commercial bank loans. It’s not just that we have carefully avoided taking loans, but we also strive to pay our debt obligations that existed before this administration as scheduled. You need a specially intelligent leader like Governor David Umahi to be this prudent.

“Having considered how lean our state’s recourses are, he made sure that we tailored our plans to achieve the infrastructural feats. He has also vowed not to leave the state more in debt than when he met it in 2015 while leaving office.”

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