John Adams, Minna
As the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to ravage across the globe with dire economic consequences, the Niger State Executive Council rose from an abridged version of its weekly executive council meeting on Wednesday with a major economic decision to cope with the expected drop in revenue as a result of the pandemic.
The council after its meeting on Wednesday announced the downsizing of the state 2020 budget already signed into law by the governor, Abubakar Sani Bello, by 36 per cent.
The State Commissioner for Budget and Planning Commission, Alhaji Mamman Musa, disclosed this while briefing reporters on the outcome of the meeting presided over by the governor at the Government House, Minna.
Alhaji Musa said that the 2020 budget would be reduced to N98 billion, representing 64 per cent of the original budget of N155 billion
He said that the council was also mindful of the recurrent expenditure in the 2020 budget, which stood at N70 billion and the capital expenditure of N85 billion.
To this end, the council announced the reduction in overhead cost to Ministries, Agencies and Departments (MDAs) by 75 per cent as well as travel expenses of government officials.
According to the commissioner, the new budget will concentrate on only projects that have attained 75 per cent completion, adding that new projects would only be considered based on their necessity.
He said the downward review of the 2020 budget had become imperative due to the global economic downturn caused as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Alhaji Musa pointed out that the 2020 budget was 90 per cent reliant on income projections from the statutory allocation from the Federation Account based on the oil with a benchmark of $57 per barrel.
According to him, since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, global oil prices have dropped below $30 per barrel which will drastically affect the 2020 budget, informing the need for the budgetary cuts.
The commissioner, however, pointed out that the state government is already looking inward towards enhancing its internally generated revenue to cover the budget shortfalls.