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By Maureen Agbala/Angela Nwanodu  :

Awka, Feb. 23, 2020 (MOI) Government of Anambra under the Ministry of Economic Planning, Budget and Development Partners held a stakeholders consultative forum to seek stakeholders’ inputs on the 2021 draft annual budget.

Mr Mark Okoye, the Commissioner in the Ministry was physically present along with heads of various State Ministries, Departments and Agencies.

The State Budget Team and representatives from the Civil Society Organisations (CSO), Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), State Traders Association, Persons Living with Disability and Youth Associations.

No fewer than 300 participants, including representatives from the World Bank, State and Local Government Reform (SLOGOR) project, the Department for International Development Partnership to Engage, Reform and Learn (DFID-PERL).

Others are State Fiscal Transparency Accountability and Sustainability (STFAS) programmes, the Nigerian Governors’ Forum and other development partners joined the forum via zoom.

Mr Okoye in his presentation on Medium Term Expenditure Framework covering period (2021-2023) and draft 2021 Capital and Recurrent Budget Estimates said the 2021 draft annual budget expenditure outlay and other things being equal were estimated at N140.8 billion.

The increase in the budget size was N25.9 billion from the 2020 revised budget of N114.9 billion representing 18.3 per cent increase.

A further breakdown showed that the recurrent expenditure was estimated at N52 billion representing 37 per cent of the budget size.

While the capital expenditure was estimated at N86.24 billion indicating 63 per cent of the budget size, thereby implying that significant funds would be channeled into capital projects in the critical sectors of the economy.

Mr Okoye said that personnel costs were estimated at N18.0 billion in the fiscal year 2021 compared with 2020 revised budgeted figure of N17.4 billion.

“This figure accommodates new and important employment into the Civil Service, such as the replacement of retired teachers, promotions and the projected salary increment in line with new minimum wage.

“Total overheads are estimated at N22.0 billion for the fiscal year 2021. This figure accommodates provision of subvention to new Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and other associated costs.

“Social benefits and contributions including (pensions, gratuities and group life insurance are projected at N12.0 billion in 2021 compared to N10.4 billion as revised in the 2020 budget,’’ Okoye said.

According to the commissioner, in contrast, total budget revenue for the fiscal year 2021 is estimated at N130 billion broken into N46 billion from statutory allocation, N20 billion from Value Added Tax, N36 billion from Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), N0.68 billion from Excess Crude/other Revenue, N10 billion from grants, N10 billion from other capital receipts.

For debt financing, Okoye said the state provided N11 billion in domestic debt financing comprising single digit concessionary programme lending for interventions in Agriculture, Manufacturing and Youth Entrepreneurship.

He drew attention to 2021 draft capital expenditure of key MDAs affirming that N35 billion has been earmarked for works.

“As the 2021 budget will be the last full fiscal budget year it will implement, the state government is prioritising the completion of critical projects across numerous sectors of the economy.

“Not less than N15.6 billion has been earmarked for the Anambra State International Cargo Airport and N18 billion for the completion of strategic roads and bridges,’’ he said.

Okoye emphasised that the state was focused on ensuring improved fiscal sustainability and intended to achieve this by increasing IGR.

“Findings show that Anambra State is ranked 2nd on the 2020 Budgit Fiscal Transparency Index Rankings.’’

He, then, noted that the state was committed to diversifying the economy by prioritising investments in Health, Education, Agriculture, MSMEs, Youth Empowerment and Tourism that would help cushion post COVID-19 effects on Ndi Anambra.

He informed the audience about the status of Anambra Cargo Airport project restating the Government resolved to complete the project by April 2021 due to its strategic importance to the state’s economy.

Responding to the commissioner’s presentation, the State Project Coordinator of the European Union Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption (EU-ROLAC) Programmer, Ms Josephine Onoh, made a case for increased capital expenditure allocation to the Law and Justice Sector.

Earlier in his remark, the Director of Planning, Research and Statistics Ministry of Economic Planning, Budget and Development of Partners, Mr Arthur Iweanya welcomed the participants to the forum, saying that the forum formed part of the budget preparation process in the state budget calendar.

He affirmed that Ndi Anambra’s insights drive the state Government’s decision making in planning and budgeting for critical infrastructure, economic and social development.

Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to the Governor from the Ministry, Mr Obiora Obiabumuo, said the forum was necessary amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in ensuring that the immediate inputs and development challenges of Ndi Anambra would be captured in the 2021 draft annual budget.

Chairman of the CSO, Mr Chris Azor, on behalf of the leadership of the CSOs, commended the Government for organising the forum and expressed appreciation to the public procurement law instituted by the state Government and hoped that the 2021 draft budget spoke of the needs for the critical sectors. (MOI)

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