By Obinna Uchendu Abakaliki
The Ebonyi Governor, Chief David Umahi Monday signed into law, the State revised 2020 budget of N132,002,391,626.66 representing 25.9 percent reduction from the earlier budget of N178,136,634,975.38.
Signing the budget into law through virtual conference, Governor Umahi said that the downward revision of the budget became necessary due to the country’s economic challenges which affected financial resources of the State.
According to him, the reasons for the dwindling finances include; the negative effect of COVID-19 pandemic and the reduction in the oil prices from the original $57 dollars per barrel to a Federal Government approved $25 dollars per barrel.
Governor Umahi during the event reiterated his earlier stance against reopening of schools adding that schools in the state will not reopen for now.
Umahi said if all the states of the federation were opening schools for teaching and learning, the state will not join them until all necessary measures were put in place to safe guard pupils, students and teachers against the coronavirus pandemic.
Umahi while signing the budget said the state was focusing much on Agriculture to recover from the pandemic.
He said he was not ready to share the state allocation with those criticizing his administration as according to him, he has done lots of human empowerments in the state.
He noted that schools in the state would remain closed until their premesis were cleared of bushes and all other necessary measures put in place for effective teaching and learning.
“Let nobody think that my administration will one day assemble whatever we get in Abuja and begin to share it. I will not share Ebonyi money. Ebonyi state is a construction site, we have done a lot of empowerment, we have done a lot of projects.
“Let me make it clear that Ebonyi schools will not open now. If every states is opening their schools, Ebonyi will not follow them. We have started the process to see how we can reopen and the process is to use the communities to clear all the schools; primary schools and secondary schools and then send medical teams to look at them and then they do sample testing of the teachers.
“Our medical teams will teach the teachers about COVID-19 protocol. We will look at the syllabus of our primary schools and secondary schools and they will be reviewed by the teachers”, he said.
In his remark, the State Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Orlando Nweze noted that the reduction in the nation’s oil production per day from 2.187million barrel per day to 1.7million barrel per day and devaluation of the Naira to Dollar from a rate of N305 per $1 to a rate of N360 per $1 contributed to the downward review of the budget.
“The budget has a total Covid-19 expenditure of N28,615,000,000.000 accounting for 21.68% of the total budget expenditure”, he said.
Mr Orlando said the state aligned itself with the Federal expected Gross Domestic Product, GDP of -4.42% and inflation rate of 14.13%. In producing the budget.
“In coming up with the 2020 revised budget, all sectors were affected in the earlier mentioned adjustments, however, special attention was paid to the MDAs that has direct dealing with the COVID-19 crisis”, he added.
A breakdown of the budget shows that for recurrent expenditure, Personnel cost reduced by 14.21% from N18.158B to N15.577B.
Also, while overhead cost increased by 23.43% from N22.922B to N28.293B, recurrent contingency was reduced by 80% from N5B to N1B.
For capital expenditure, there was a 33% reduction in Capital Expenditure from N127.056B to N85.132B and capital contingency was reduced by 60% from N5B to N2B.