Tony John, Port Harcourt
Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State has presented the 2019 Appropriation Bill of N480 billion to the State House of Assembly for consideration and approval.
Presenting the 2019 Appropriation Bill to the House, yesterday, Governor Wike said the strategic thrust for the 2019 budget is to promote economic growth and diversification, create jobs and reduce unemployment; take as many of Rivers people out of poverty and improve their standard of living.
He said the budget was premised on an oil price benchmark of $55 United States Dollars per barrel, which is five dollars lower than that of the Federal Government.
The 2019 Rivers State Budget was christened: ‘Budget of sustainable growth and development’.
The governor proposed N323, 288,970,085.00 as capital expenditure, while recurrent expenditure will gulp N157, 122,354,564.15.
He said, “The capital allocation of 323,288,970,085.00 for the 2019 fiscal year, represents 65 per cent of the total budget. This sum is, however, less than the figure for 2018, by N57, 708,717,319.00 due to the reduction in the total size of the 2019 budget as against that of 2018.
He said because the 2019 Appropriation Bill has set priorities for human capital development and infrastructural provision, a substantial part of the capital budget is allocated to the Ministries of Agriculture; Education; Employment Generation and Empowerment; Health; Sports Development; Women Affairs; Works; and Youth Development.
The governor proposed N72, 911,765,640.21 billion for the construction and improvement of the State’s road network and transport infrastructure.
He said, “This sum, which constitutes about 24 per cent of the total capital budget, will be utilized to continue with the funding of the construction and completion of roads”.
The sectoral allocation of the capital budget is as follows: (Proposed) Administration Sector; N17, 820,704,443.79 ,Economic Sector: N99, 053,565,640.20 ; Law and Justice Sector; N N4,350,000,000.00; Social Sector; N127, 292,200,000.00 and Special Heads, N50, 347,500,000.00; Loan Repayments , N24, 425,000,000.00.
Governor Wike said the following roads would be completed in 2019. They included: the dualization of Kira – Sakpenwa – Bori – Kono road; the Andoni – Opobo Unity road; the Oyigbo town – Ebete road; Tema – Ifoko road the Mbano camp road; Eleme – Obete road; Eteo – Sime – Bayayira-Nonwa-Kira road; Rumuji – Ibaa – obele – isiokpo road; Akabuka – Omoku road; Flyover bridge at Garrison Junction and Abonnema ring road.
Others were: Abua-Degema – Emoh-Iyak-Ighom-Elok road; Ula Ehuda – Odioku – Anwunugboko – Ubeta – Ihuechi – Odiereke road; Rumuche road in Emouha Local Government Area; Flyover bridge at Rumuokwuta roundabout; Flyover bridge at University of Port Harcourt Junction, Ahoada – Odiemerenyi – Ihugbogo-odieke road; Isiodu roads , Ahoada – Ekpena road; Omoku-Aligwu-Kreigani-Oduoboburu road, Odieku internal roads; Bolo internal roads; Rumukpakani internal roads; and Umuogba – Umuokpurukpu – Umueke – Umunju Umuelechi – Eberi roundabout link road.
Governor Wike proposed the sum of N17,112,000,000.00 for the Bureau for Special Projects to fund the completion of land reclamation at Bakana in Degema Local Government Area, land reclamation at Abalama in Asari Toru Local Government Area; land reclamation and shore protection in Kula in Akuku Toru Local Government Area; the Secretariat buildings for Trade Union Congress, Nigeria Labour Congress, National Union of Rivers State Students and Rivers State Students Union Government; and the Fruit Garden market in Port Harcourt City Local Government Area.
The governor stated the administration allocated the sum of N25, 300,000,000.00 to fund healthcare delivery in the State. He said key projects in the sector will be completed and delivered in 2019.
Governor Wike said his administration will continue to give security of lives and property all the attention that it deserves in spite of the obvious lack of cooperation from the Federal Government.
He said, “The sum of N18,000,000,000.00 has been proposed to fund all aspects of securing and keeping Rivers State safe, peaceful and secure, including the operationalisation of the recently established State Neighbourhood Safety Corps programme.
“The Neighbourhood Safety Corps programme is very dear to us as a government. Apart from the number of youths that it will employ, the programme has the potential to enhance our collective security. And so we are prepared to do whatever it will take to ensure its implementation in the course of 2019”.
Governor Wike noted that the sum of N4, 350,000,000.00 only has been proposed for the Law and Justice sector to further strengthen and enhance the justice delivery system in the State.
For the recurrent expenditure, Governor Wike proposed to spend as follows: Personnel Emolument , N79, 585,058,808.60; Overhead N 17, 025,380,000.00; Pension N 33,000,000,000.00 and Others N27,511,915,255.55.
Through the recurrent proposals, Governor Wike accommodated the expected new minimum wage for the state and the handling of the pension challenges facing the state.
Governor Wike said, “With this, the State Government will be in a position to pay the minimum wage whenever the National Assembly approves it. We also made provisions for staff promotion arrears and new recruitments into the State’s civil service.
“The sum of N33,000,000,000.00 is proposed for the settlement of pension liabilities. The challenge about the plight of pensioners has lingered for too long and we are determined to tackle it this time around. Certainly, our senior citizens deserve better treatment than what they are presently getting”.
The 2019 Rivers State Budget will be financed as follows: Internally Generated Revenue N120, 492,891,302.00 ,Statutory Allocation; N73, 169,813,022.00 : 13 percent oil minerals fund; N145, 070,991,780.00 ;Value Added Tax; N26, 377,628,543.00; Refunds; N27, 337,926,155.08, Local Credits; N45,000,000,000.00; International Credits N30, 000,000,000.00; Capital receipts; N300, 000,000.00 Exchange gain; N8, 000,000,000.00 Prior year Balance; N4, 662,073,844.92: N480, 411,324,647,00.
Governor Wike said for the 2018 Budget as at November 2018, total revenue receipts from all sources (except internal and external loans) stood at N288,721,423,336, which represents about 79 per cent performance on the revenue side with respect to the totally projected IGR and FAAC receipts for 2018.
The governor said that the aggregate capital releases to MDAs as at November 2018, stood at over 65 per cent of the total capital expenditure.
Governor Wike said despite inheriting a collapsed economy from the immediate past All Progressives Congress (APC) administration in the state, his administration has revived the state’s economy.
He said, “We came in with a clear vision and mission: a vision to repair and renew the promise of our State; a mission to pull our people from the cesspool of despair and restore our hopes for brighter future.
“Three and half years after, we have substantially achieved our commitments on all directions of human advancement.
Under our watch, Rivers State has emerged from the brink of economic disaster to an era of fiscal sustainability. Today, our Gross Domestic product has increased and our economy is growing at a rate above the national average and attracting new investments even when the national economy continues to be weak, wobbly and troubling.
“Under our guardianship, we have invested at record levels to provide critical social and economic infrastructure across the State; especially roads, schools, and health facilities.
In the process, we created hundreds of thousands of jobs across the construction value chain”.
He said the 2019 budget is intended to consolidate on the administration’s achievements and enable it to put the State on an irreversible path to sustainable economic growth and development.
Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Mr. Ikuinyi-Owaji Ibani, said the House will give the budget the required consideration in the interest of the state.
He noted that the House has already approved the Medium Term Expenditure Framework, which would form the basis of the budget’s consideration.
The budget passed through its first reading after the State Governor laid the budget on the table.