The Akwa Ibom state House of Assembly has passed into law an estimated budget size of N371.292bn for the 2017 fiscal year. The budget is made up of N88.424 billion for recurrent expenditure, N80.870billion for Consolidated Revenue Fund Charges, and N201.997billion for capital expenditure.
The proposed capital expenditure of N193.956 billion was increased by N8.042billion representing 1.7% while N2b was saved from the consolidated revenue fund charges bringing the total budget outlay to N371b from N365b.
Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. (Barr) Onofiok Luke said after a careful study of the 2017 appropriation bill as submitted by Governor Udom Emmanuel, and after listening to the concerns of stakeholders during the public hearing on the budget, the House saw the need to increase the overall budget layout to the tune of 8 billion Naira in capital expenditure and a reduction in the recurrent expenditure.
He said: “We had to augment the social sector, especially in the areas of healthcare delivery, the sum for the construction and renovation of hospitals and health institutions which original provision was too minimal.
“We had to provide for massive renovation of schools, provision of water boreholes especially in rural communities, desks in schools under the inter-ministerial direct labour coordinating committee to improve the free and compulsory education efforts of government.
“These increases account for the little over 8 billion in Capital expenditure increase that we have had. It is important to state that the increases were inspired by the needs assessment which we carried out. It was also necessary following the contributions from stakeholders during the public hearing.
“Also, we had considered the need to meet certain urgent socioeconomic demands in riverine and interior communities of the state.
He promised the assembly’s commitment to giving the Governor Udom Emmanuel administration the full cooperation which it requires to deliver on its industrialization agenda. He said the cooperation does not however mean that the House will be complacent in its oversight responsibility.
“It is important to state that while we promise to give the governor our maximum cooperation as a House, we will not abdicate our responsibility of strict oversight on the executive.
“And when we do this in the course of the fiscal year, we urge the public not to misunderstand our action to be a probe of government. The performance of oversight function by the legislative arm is not a probe of government. It is also a form of cooperation to see to it that the dividend of democracy is delivered to Akwa Ibom people.
“This is why we ask that for the purpose of transparency and accountability to our people, as soon as this budget is signed, it must be made public by the state executive.
Barr Luke commended the state governor for his forthrightness and prudence in managing the state economy, “we are using the 2016 budget implementation as the parameter for this score”. He called on the federal government to remit funds owed the state.
“Let me commend the running of government by His Excellency the Governor. His effort in increasing the state’s internally generated revenue in the last couple of months has been most effective.
“It is in this light that we again urge the federal government to consider the speedy remittance of our funds, especially those on the construction of federal roads.
“We are also creating other avenues to generate wealth for the state internally. One of these is our commitment to following up on the promise of His Excellency the Acting President, to ensure the relocation of operational base of oil producing companies to Akwa Ibom state where they make explorations. This will generate IGR through PAYE directly to the state.”
The speaker ordered that the 2017 appropriation law should be made public by the executive after it has been signed into law “for the purpose of transparency and accountability to the people”.
Chairman of the finance and appropriation committee of the House, Hon. Usoro Akpanusoh had earlier presented the recommendations of the committee while presenting the committee’s report of the appropriation bill 2017 on the floor of the House.
Among others, the House approved the committee’s recommendation that the executive should “ensure prompt release of funds for the execution of critical capital projects in the state.” It also approved that ministries, departments, and agencies should make quarterly reports to the Akwa Ibom state House of Assembly through their oversight committees on the level of budget implementation and release of funds”.