GOVERNOR of Anambra State, Professor Chukwuma Soludo yesterday presented a revised budget of N170 billion to the state House of Assembly for approval.
He informed the state lawmakers that he inherited a red treasury and pervasive insecurity, which appeared to be slowing down the momentum of his administration.
The revised budget size is N28 billion higher than the existing appropriation of N142 billion presented by his predecessor, Chief Willie Obiano.
In the revised budget, capital expenditure increased from N81 billion to N108 billion, while recurrent expenditure increased marginally by 0.79% from N60 billion.
The governor said he left the budget on security unchanged, while counting on off budget resources from donations to augment.
Soludo said: “The purpose of the 2022 revised budget is to reflect current realities, challenges, and priorities of the new administration and Ndi Anambra. We are undaunted by the state of the treasury.
“We have seriously started reforming our system of tax administration to significantly ramp up our internally generated revenue over the coming years.
“Among the challenges we inherited, a red treasury and pervasive insecurity, especially with criminals taking the seven local governments of the south senatorial zone hostage were the most acute. We have chosen to confront the foundational issue of security head-on and expected that those profiting from the lucrative criminal enterprise would viciously fight back, and they have. Suffice it to say that so far, so good. They are testing our will and resolve. Let me assure you this: Anambra will win.
“In the meantime, the dire needs of Ndi Anambra and our transformation agenda cannot wait. We are working on a mixture of financing options, including debt that is ring-fenced to fund bankable projects and/or infrastructure with impacts on the economy, to guarantee efficient and effective service delivery to our people while ensuring fiscal sustainability over the medium to longer terms.
“As a reflection of our agenda, about 60% of the capital expenditure is targeted at delivering infrastructure that the average citizen can feel, see, use or touch and which have the highest developmental impact within the shortest possible time.
“For example, we have declared a state of emergency on rebuilding our road infrastructure and traffic management. About N52 billion or 31% of the total budget is for the Ministry of Works and Infrastructure and we intend to simultaneously invest in roads in most of the local governments, paying special attention to our urban regeneration agenda. “We have requested the Federal Government to kindly intervene on emergency basis on a number of federal roads in the state that have become nightmarish death traps. We confidently expect their urgent responsive action.
“But in the event that the expected response does not come soon, we may have to implement urgent palliatives in some places, especially at Amansea; Ekwulobia- Igboukwu- Nnobi road; Ogidi; etc where the roads are literally cutting off.
“We plan to recruit qualified medical doctors and nurses for our general hospitals and upscale the infrastructure in selected ones. “We have already received over 26,000 applications in response to our advertisement to recruit and train teachers for our primary and secondary schools.
“Visitation panels will review the operations of the State University, Polytechnic and College of Education to provide basis for our reforms to ensure that they are fit for purpose.
“As a precursor to our planned Entertainment and Leisure City (envisaged to be largest in Africa), we have budgeted in the interim to construct an expansive Entertainment and leisure park around the Agulu Lake. Yes, our administration is continuing with the ‘Community Choose Your Project’ initiative of my predecessor, and have raised the value of the community projects to N25 million per community.
“Furthermore, to drive our “Everything Technology, and Technology Everywhere” strategy, the budget provides for a modern centralized ICT Data Centre to consolidate the State’s data and ensure business continuity in any and all circumstances.
“We are commencing the digitization of our land registry. Our agenda to deliberately orchestrate the emergence and empowerment of thousands of youth millionaires and a digital tribe is given its first impetus in this revised budget.
“We promised to reinvent the Oil Palm and Coconut revolution. We have mobilized communities and the private sector for partnership and with overwhelming demand, we plan to provide 500,000—1,000,000 seedlings this year, and millions in subsequent years.
“We have also provided for significant seed money to commence pre-feasibility studies and designs for bankable projects, including possible new cities”.
He lamented that although Anambra State will celebrate its 31st anniversary as a state in August this year, it is a state without a proper Government House and a Governor’s Lodge. He added: “We have budgeted to correct this, to ensure the efficiency of government operations. We have also budgeted to continue the work-in-progress in our international cargo airport.
“Mr. Speaker and Honorable members, in the months and years ahead, we have hard choices to make as we strive to meet the expectations of our people.
“Fiscal prudence will become a lifestyle as we cannot afford to waste one kobo. Transparent public finance management will be critical. That is why we have also budgeted for the full computerization of the Ministry of Finance and the Office of the Accountant-General. “Managing our over N120 billion debt, especially the contractor debt and pension liabilities in the context of the paltry Federation Account receipts and burgeoning needs of our people, will task our dexterity and demand hard choices and sacrifice.
“We just received the preliminary report of the external consultants’ review of our local government finances, which confirms that the combined state and local government gratuity liabilities to pensioners is over N20 billion.
“We are determined to clean the books over time and align Anambra’s pension administration with the Pension Act and let our pensioners smile. In the meantime, our administration has signaled a new dawn by insisting that we won’t owe new retirees under my watch, while we have also started (albeit gradually) paying down the backlog.
“Our government is very serious in forging new development partnerships with the international development partners, the federal government, as well as the local government. We are reforming our processes and ramping up our active engagements to maximize the benefits of such partnerships. “For example, we have budgeted to meet our counterpart funding requirements to access federal and development partner funds. We are also working hard to restructure and reform our local government administration in conformity with the relevant laws. We will actively collaborate with the local governments in the areas of waste management; cleaner, greener and more environmentally sustainable communities; street lighting; fire service; qualitative primary school education; as well as planned modern markets, and security. Community government will be strengthened and mainstreamed.
“Already, the state is forging new (sustainable) economic partnership with communities not only with the ‘community choose your project’ initiative but now with the new community-based but jointly owned Oil Palm and Coconut plantations that will soon adorn the state.
“In weeks to come, we will be coming to you again and again with a set of legislations required as critical building blocks for the next Anambra we all envision, as well as other critical approvals and confirmations required from this Honourable House”.
He said the revised budget 2022 sign-posts some of the key deliverables for this year as his government kicks off from the blocks. It is also a call to collective action and lifestyle of Value for Money.
Soludo said further: “The foundation of Anambra as a Smart Mega City will be tasking all of us to the limit. But we are Ndi Anambra! The irrepressible Anambra Spirit and the collective action of a people that loves their homeland dearly are what we will continue to call and draw upon to move ahead. This Anambra Spirit and collective action came alive during my visits to Lagos and Abuja last week to meet with our people.
The enthusiasm and generous pledges of our people towards our homeland security demonstrated once again that Anambra can be anything we desire and work that it should be.
“I am emboldened by the massive support and solidarity of the people as we face the threat of common but organized criminals who want to run our people out of town and take our wealth and land by force”.
He assured the lawmakers that the executive arm would never take their partnership for granted, adding “We are also confident that your love and passion for our state, as well as your patriotic zeal for a transformed and developed Anambra, will continue to propel your cooperation and partnership with the executive branch.
Irrespective of political party affiliations or other differences, we all have only one agenda in government, namely: the development of Anambra State, and together, we shall get it done for our people and for posterity”.