From Chris Gaga, Makurdi
Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom has proposed a budget of N189.4billion for the 2020 appropriation year.
Christened, “budget of Advancement, Growth and Development”,the N189.4billion for 2020 is over N10billion less than the budget for 2019 which was pegged at N199.7billion.
Presenting the budget to the 9th Benue State House of Assembly, Tuesday, Governor Ortom said the “2020 proposed recurrent expenditure stands at One Hundred and Fourteen Billion, Sixty-Two Million, Five Hundred and Forty-Eight Million, Five Hundred and Twenty-Five Thousand, Eight Hundred and Eighty-Seven Naira (N 114,548,525,887) only.
According to him, the 2020 capital estimates stands at the sum of Seventy-Four Billion, Nine Hundred and Thirty-Four Million, Nine Hundred and Eighty-Five Thousand, One Hundred and Thirty-Eight Naira (N74,934,985,138).
The governor said out of the total amount for recurrent expenditure, the sum of Fifty Billion, Six Hundred and Thirty-Seven Million, Two Hundred and Fifty Thousand, Six Hundred and Forty-Six Naira (N 50,637,250,646) only will be for personnel cost, while the sum of Sixty-Three Billion, Nine Hundred and Eleven Million, Two Hundred and Seventy-Five Thousand, Two Hundred and Forty Naira (N 63,911,275,240) only will represent payment for overhead cost.
Ortom who blamed the poor performance of the 2019 budget on the effects of the farmer- herder conflict expressed confidence that with the return of relative peace, he was better positioned to develop the state.
“Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, the performance of this budget suffered from the impact of the recessional overhang of the preceding years and the effects of the herdsmen attacks of 2018, especially the internal displacement crisis that has continue to hamper our agricultural and economic activities in many LGAs,” Ortom said.
The governor was however not clear on the inclusion of the consequential minimum wage adjustment in the 2020 budget estimates.
“As you are all aware, there are pending negotiations with labour over the implementation of the new minimum wage, and at the appropriate time this Honourable House will be notified of any changes to our personnel estimates,” Ortom said.
The governor explained that the 2020 budget was premised on an exchange rate of N305 to the dollar with crude oil production estimate of 2.18 million barrels per day and the crude oil price estimate of $55 per barrel.
He said the 2020 budget would be funded from resources including federal account allocation committee (FAAC), internally generated revenue(IGR) and value added tax(VAT).
“On that basis, we have proposed the sum of One Hundred and Eighty-Nine Billion, Four Hundred and Eighty-Three Million, Five Hundred and Eleven Thousand and Twenty-Five Naira(189,483,511,025).
“The State Government share of disbursements from the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) takes the lead with a proposed Forty-Two Billion, Seven Hundred and Sixty Million, Nine Hundred and Forty-Five Thousand, Nine Hundred and Forty Naira (N42,760,945,940) only from this source.
“This is followed by independent revenue of Thirty-One Billion, Eight Hundred and Eighty-Five Million, Six Hundred and Sixty-Five Thousand, Nine Hundred and Twenty-Nine Naira (N 31,885,665,929) only.
“And Value Added Tax (VAT) with a proposed figure of Thirteen Billion, Three Hundred and Thirty-Two Million, Forty-Nine Thousand, Five Hundred and Forty-Three Naira (N 13,332,049,543) only.
“There is also provision for deficit financing in the amount Ninety-Six Billion, Nine Hundred and Nineteen Million, Five Hundred and Twenty-Six Thousand, Five Hundred and Forty-Eight Naira (96,919,526,548) only,” Ortom said.
The governor said the budget will provide more funds for the development of the agricultural sector as well as provide relevant infrastructure that hinder that farmers and development partners from economic progress.
“The policy thrust of the draft 2020 Budget of Advancement, Growth and Development is to ensure adequate provision for implementation of programmes that can reflate the state economy and accelerate growth, as well as completion of on-going projects and the consistent payment of personnel emoluments.
“As agriculture continues to be the mainstay of economic life for our people, we have provided funding to develop the value chain so that it creates more employment opportunities for our youth. We are increasing our investment in agricultural production and marketing through the Rural Access and Agricultural Marketing Programme (RAAMP) being implemented in partnership with the African Development Bank.
“We have also adopted and adapted the National Livestock Transformation Programme (NLTP) to realise our huge potential in this important sub-sector.
“Furthermore, deliberate policies are being introduced in the 2020 budget to speed up development at the grassroots. The launch of the District Economic Expansion and Development Strategy (DEEDS) is a bold and ambitious strategy to ensure greater impact at the grassroots level and accelerate progress towards the sustainable development goals (SDGs). This is a conscious effort to support our communities at the ward level to identify the most critical basic infrastructure projects which will be carefully planned and implemented in collaboration with the local governments and development partners.
“Our intention is to spur growth by removing the infrastructural barriers that prevent our farmers and entrepreneurs from actualising their economic potentials. The programme will take off with projects being initiated across all the 276 council wards of the state within the budget year.
“These projects will include electricity, feeder roads, boreholes and other mini water projects, market stalls, minor bridges as well as such other facilities that are needed to drive economic expansion and development at the grassroots level.
“This programme would also directly improve the economic status of our people at the grassroots because it would emphasise labour intensity and local content in the execution of projects, thereby providing income opportunities for a considerable number of people,” the governor said.
DAILY ASSET reports that governor Ortom also presented a Seven Billion, Seventy-Five Million, Nine Hundred and Twelve Thousand, Two Hundred and Thirty-Three Naira(N7,075,912,233) supplementary budget to cover up the Pay as you earn (PAYE) funds returned to the state coffers recently. It is the first time the PAYE revenue collected from federal agencies operating in the state were paid to Benue states since 1999.
Meanwhile, the Speaker of the Benue State House of Assembly, Titus Uba while receiving the budget estimates urged MDAs to make timely appearance before the relevant committees in defence of their budget so also to ensure its timely passage .