By Paul Osuyi, Asaba
Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State has said that his administration would strive to recover from the economic challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Okowa gave the assurance in Asaba where he assented to the state’s 2021 Appropriation Bill.
The total size of the budget tagged ‘Budget of Economic Recovery’ as passed by the state House of Assembly is N383 billion, with recurrent expenditure of N173 billion and capital expenditure of N210 billion.
Okowa said signing the budget with a month to the end of 2020 would avail the State Government the opportunity to plan further towards the implementation of the 2021 budget from January.
As we continue to build our #StrongerDelta, this afternoon, I signed the 2021 Approriation Bill. As I stated during my presentation, this year’s budget will focus on increasing empowerment opportunities for all our people. pic.twitter.com/3KdfcQvU5T
— Dr. Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa (@IAOkowa) November 30, 2020
‘You have just witnessed my signing into law the 2021 Appropriation Bill, and as I said on October 27, during the presentation of the bill, we are in very difficult times this year, no doubt both in this country and globally.
‘And with the second wave of the pandemic, it will create a further challenge for the recovery of the economy of our nation.
‘However, we are optimistic that in the 2021 fiscal year, things will gradually improve and we will be able to get back to the levels of infrastructural development and the human capital development for our people.
‘This is very necessary because there is a lot of pain, there is a lot of unemployment and our people are generally getting restive nationally and I pray that God will help us and this nation to rediscover ourselves and to commit every work of our people and our state and nation for the common good of all our citizens.
‘We are very much aware of the impact of COVID-19 pandemic, both on our health systems and the economy of the country, which is still largely dependent on the oil economy,’ he said.
According to him, as long as we are still dependent mainly on oil economy with the global pandemic going, we definitely have a lot of shortfalls, both in the prices and the volumes of oil that is being sold in the international market.
‘This obviously impacted negatively on our budget in 2020 that we had to reduce it downward twice in the year.
‘However, I want to use this medium to appreciate our various contractors who had continued to stay in their various sites to work even when it is becoming increasingly difficult to make payments on contractual agreements already made.
‘We will continue to be very responsible as a state and we will continue to work with them to deliver on our projects,’ he stated.
Okowa stated that the state would continue to focus on entrepreneurship programmes, and would take it to higher levels in the 2021 fiscal year by engaging more youths.
He said that the state government was also paying attention to the girl-child and the empowerment of our women.
‘It is our hope and prayer that we will be able to achieve a reasonably budgeted amount of revenue, so that we can truly impact positively on all aspects of our economy, touching every community and every local government in the State,’ he added.
Presenting the Appropriation Bill to the governor earlier, Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Sheriff Oborevwori, said the Bill went through all legislative processes before passage.
Oborevwori recalled that Bill was presented to the House on October 27 and was passed on November 17 after it was considered sector-by-sector.
‘It is with great pleasure that I present to you the 2021 Appropriation Bill passed by the House of Assembly for your assent.
‘The urgency with which it was passed was informed by the legislative agenda of the House to partner with the executive to put the state on the path of recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic which has ravaged the world,’ he said.