Governor Ihedioha proposes N197.6b 2020 budget


*Tagged rebuild Imo budget

*Says days of imperial governorship over

Imo State Governor, Emeka Ihedioha CON, has presented, ”Rebuild Imo Budget One” to the Imo State House of Assembly.

In his presentation at the Assembly Chambers Wednesday, Governor Ihedioha presented to the House a total proposed budget of N197,607,272,328, with recurrent expenditure at N91,377,822,129, which is 46.2 percent of the budget, while Capital expenditure stood at N106,229,450,200, which is 53.8 percent of the budget.

He said, “In summary, the Recurrent Expenditure is N91, 377,822,129. However, this figure includes the repayment to FGN on debts including bail out funds and rescheduled service of bonds.

“Our capital expenditure is N106, 229, 450,200 which represents 53.8 percent of the proposed budget. This is a welcomed development in an era where many other administrations have well below 40 percent in capital expenditure. It goes without saying that capital expenditure drives development and growth.

He said the focus of the 2020 Budget is six pronged aimed at “rebuilding infrastructure, especially roads, smart electricity sub sector, Agriculture by laying the groundwork for sustainable agriculture, health delivery, with focus on health insurance, primary healthcare and cleaner environment, human capital development, especially technological advancement, technical education, women and youth empowerment, Ease of Doing Business, job/wealth creation and youth empowerment.

The Governor said the six planks of the budget will be achieved through, enhancement of Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), aggressive road reconstruction programmes, enabling environment for private sector investment, smart public private sector partnerships, capacity building especially for the youth, provision of agricultural inputs and development of agricultural infrastructure, local governments partnerships, health insurance, primary healthcare and cleaner environment.

He stated that the 2020 budget proposal which encapsulates government’s political, economic and social development strategies, aims at giving the citizenry a sense of belonging.

Governor Ihedioha recalled the state of Imo before he was sworn in as Governor and how far his administration has gone in actualizing the Rebuild Imo Agenda.

He said “The State of colossal ruins this government met upon the inception of our administration is no longer news. It was an all round devastation spanning every facet of infrastructure, public utilities, health, education, industry and the public service to mention but a few.

“Imo State was like a pariah state avoided by investors, ignored by International donor agencies and denigrated by national agencies.

He noted that “Last year, the State was among few States in Nigeria that could not qualify to receive 18m dollars World Bank grants due to absence of transparency and accountability in governance.

“Reports upon reports lamented the unwillingness of the then Government to work with constitutionally approved structures of governance, its lack of due process and resort to ad hoc and episodic approaches to governance. This came along with a huge loss in investor confidence and absence of international development assistance.

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He said on assumption of office, he pledged to rebuild the State and restore its glory.

“Mr.Speaker, I am glad to report that we have not wavered on that pledge”.

He stated, “Consequently, I am here today, in keeping with the Constitutional requirement to present to this Honourable House, the Budget proposal for 2020. As you are all aware, prior to our inauguration, we began by harnessing our huge human and economic resources to set a clear path in the rebuilding process. We had set up a high-powered Transition Technical Committee (TTC) comprising very distinguished ladies and gentlemen from both within the state and the diaspora. These resource persons met and articulated a possible development path.

“Consequently, government set out a vision to elevate Imo to become one of the top three state economies in Nigeria by 2025 and ranked within Africa’s top ten economies by 2030. To this effect, we are leveraging the abundant human capital and natural endowments of the State to build an economy anchored on good governance, accountability, wealth creation, rule of law and sound management of state resources. We have also mapped out a Short-term Plan involving, some quick-wins, particularly restoration of critical infrastructure, public utilities and security. In the same vein, we activated the State Health Insurance Scheme.

“Furthermore, we have set up a structure for transparency and accountability in the governance process. On this score, I signed the Executive Order 005, known as Treasury Single Account (TSA) Order. The essence is to consolidate all government revenues under one account. Similarly, we have signed to implement the International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS). These measures are designed to plug leakages and increase Internally Generated Revenues (IGR) in the State coffers.

Governor Ihedioha revealed plans of his administration to embark on massive roads construction across the State.

“Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, I am very glad to inform you that works have commenced on 25 critical roads across the State. Also recently we awarded portions of five major roads leading into the State capital. These roads are the Owerri-Orlu Road, Owerri-Okigwe Road, Owerri-Obowo Road, Owerri-Aba Road and the Owerri-Port Harcourt Road. Notably, these roads are federal roads but impact the ease of movement and doing business in the State hence our intervention. In all, about N40Billion is being committed to these projects. Likewise we have awarded contract for the construction of Oguta link road to connect the Oguta Lake Resort to enhance access to this international tourism haven.

“Mr. Speaker, we have also paid attention to the rural road construction. Essentially, we have harnessed resources and paid N500Million counterpart funding to the World Bank and so attracted N13.5 billion from the Bank, under its Rural Access and Mobility Project (RAMP). A cumulative distance of 380.7 kilometers is already under construction across 26 local government areas under this programme.

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He said lives of the people of the State has also received the attention of his government

“Similarly, we have given priority attention to the security of lives and property in the State. The Operation Iron Gate is on course and has significantly brought down the level of insecurity we met at the inception of this administration. In this regard, we have directly engaged special units of security agencies including anti-cult and anti-kidnapping units. We have also held security summits on flash points in the State and mapped out special policing strategies for the areas. Likewise we have activated an emergency call centre which has enhanced rapid response to security alerts. In the same manner we have acquired special gadgets to help forestall the menace of these undesirable elements in our society. Currently, we are effectively participating in a collaborative manner with sister states in the South East towards strengthening regional security. Tellingly, we are coordinating this effort.

Sports he said, has not been left out in the Rebuild Imo Agenda

“As a government and a people, we have lofty plans for sports development in the State. This is borne out of the well-established pedigree of Imolites as national sporting icons. We are also mindful of the huge sporting potentials amongst our people and are determined to mine these talents to the overall benefit of the State. On this score, we are investing heavily in upgrading our sports infrastructure such as the rehabilitation of Dan Anyiam and the Grasshoppers’ stadia. We are also partnering with the local governments in the construction of 27 mini-stadia in the Local Government Areas. Drawing from these investments into sports infrastructure, we would be bidding to host the National Sports Festival for 2022.

Governor Ihedioha revealed plans of his administration to improve the quality of education in the State and give due attention to technology

“As I indicated in my inauguration address, we have commenced the rebuilding and upgrading of the four technical colleges in the State under our Technical & Vocational Education Training (TVET) programme. The beneficiary institutions include Government Technical College Owerri, Ahiara Technical College, Government Technical College Okporo, Orlu and Government Technical College, Osu, Mbano. Our target is that by 2020 we should have hit 60 percent mark of post-Basic students as enrolees in the TVET system.

“In the same vein, we are giving attention to capacity building in technology. For instance, we facilitated training of 200 teachers in Microsoft office and basic internet skills by Digital Bridge Institute – a training arm of the Nigerian Communications Commission – NCC. Similarly, we are in collaboration with Leo Stan Eke Foundation for the training of 5400 Imo Youths in information technology. So far 2300 youths from 13 Local Governments of the State have benefitted from the training. An additional 3100 beneficiaries for the remaining Local Government Areas would proceed for the training in due course.

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“Other investments in this sector include training of 250 women in partnership with Microsoft on Computer Coding and Web development, most of whom have already gained employment. Others include 100 Imolites on artificial intelligence and machine learning in partnership with 6-Factor, a California-based tech company. Similarly 2000 youths have been trained on financial technology, in collaboration with e-Transact and Iwuanyanwu Foundation. These programmes are meant to make our people acquire globally competitive skills and therefore more employable. So far, 500 Imo Youths have been trained in sustainable agricultural skills.

Governor Ihedioha also spoke on the success his administration has recorded in offsetting the huge pension bill of pensioners in the State

He said “Mr. Speaker, Honourable members, I am glad to inform you today that what seemed impossible a few months ago has been resolved. Here, I refer to the pension debacle. We have reformed our pension administration system, developed a credible pension data-base following a painstaking verification exercise. Notably, this action has saved Imo State approximately N280m monthly. Accordingly, we have commenced payment of pension arrears.

“It is pertinent to state that payment of salaries and pensions remains the bulk of our recurrent expenditure. Indeed about N3.5b (70% of an estimated N5b from the monthly FAAC receipts) is spent on salaries and pensions. These figures are significantly higher than what was expended by the previous administration, primarily because while they paid workers a reduced sum based on an arbitrary percentage of their earnings and owed pensions, we have not only commenced payment of pension arrears, but also full payment of workers entitlements.

“My fellow compatriots, following these various strategic reforms and fiscal responsibility interventions, Imo State is now in the Open Governance Partnership League. This thus qualifies us for performance-based grants of the World Bank States Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) programme. As a result of these measures, Imo State has gained positive image in the international community and multilateral development institutions.

In his address, Speaker of the Imo State House of Assembly, Chiji Collins, while welcoming the governor, noted that this is his first budget proposal after assuming office.

He reassured of the commitment of his colleagues, irrespective of political party affiliations, adding that, “the indelible achievements Governor has recorded since assumption of office is worthy of commendation, despite inheriting a state in ruins with humongous infrastructural and institutional decay”.

The governor was accompanied by his deputy, Gerald Irona as well members of the expanded executive council.

By: Chibuike Onyeukwu

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