BY ISAAC OLAMIKAN
The Governor of Edo State, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, on Wednesday presented a 146billion 2018 Appropriation Bill and Budget Estimates, christened ‘the Budget of Growth’ to the Edo State House of Assembly with the assurance to consolidate on the infrastructural and socio-economic gains of the outgoing year 2017.
Obaseki commended the Speaker and members of the Edo State House of Assembly for their unprecedented support through their timely responses to requests for legislations and other forms of support to the executive arm of government.
According to the governor, “we have a budget size of N146, 659,830,444 billion, which is a 15% nominal increase over the 2017 budget. The 2018 budget is made up of N66,797,615,689 for Recurrent and N79,862,214,754 as Capital expenditure.”
He explained that the “revenue estimates for the budget are based on a $45 bench mark for crude oil and average daily production of 2.3 million barrels per day as well as an increase in Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), as a result of reforms in revenue collection.
Obaseki assured that the 2018 budget will build on the recovery witnessed in 2017, and stressed that “We intend to revitalise the state economy by increasing capital spending, hence, we envisage a capital/recurrent expenditure ratio of (54%:46%) which highlights our vision to grow, with cash receipts capped at N120,099,830,443.52 to be sourced from statutory allocation, IGR and grants.”
Analysing the budget estimates, the governor said “a larger part of the 2018 budget will be devoted to the development of physical and social infrastructure across the state to improve the standard of living of Edo people.
“Our government will consolidate on the gains we have made in wooing investors to the state. Alaghodaro Investment Summit was a huge success and I must thank you Mr Speaker and Honourable members for your support for the laudable initiative. We have been bombarded by enquiries from all over the world after the investment summit as investors have come to accept that Edo is indeed ready for business. This budget is expected to drive growth and progress in all sectors of the state.”
The priority areas in the proposed 2018 capital expenditure framework, he explained “are social and physical infrastructure for which we have earmarked N51 billion. We will take advantage of the Dry Season to reconstruct several bad roads and construct new ones across the state to boost socio-economic activities. We have already commenced the procurement process for the roads through advertisements in major national newspapers.”
To boost employment generation across the state, Obaseki said that “N9.7billion will be spent on economic growth and employment enablers. Part of which will be targeted at the establishment of a Skills Development Agency responsible for coordinating all the State Government’s human capacity development initiatives targeted at youths, women and vulnerable groups.
“This will enhance the capacity of these individuals for direct employment and entrepreneurship. Our government will continue with the investment in the development of industrial parks across the state to turn around the fortunes of our economy as an industrial state, from the old narrative of a civil servants’ state.”
He noted that “the import of consolidating on reforms embarked on in the previous year is not lost on us. So, as much as we are committed to accommodating private sector investment inflows, we are equally committed to strengthening the state workforce, processes and institutions for optimal service delivery.
“To achieve this, N7.1bn has been set aside for direct intervention in institutional, law and order reforms which will cover investments in Judiciary, governance and security institutions.
We will continue the reforms in administration of state resources, improving the work environment, digitalising our processes and providing faster and easier access to relevant government information.
“We have set aside N6.3bn and N3.3bn respectively for the education and health sectors to further strengthen the gains made in ongoing basic education and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) reforms. In the health sector, he assured that attention will be given to primary health care service delivery and health insurance for Edo people. “To this end, the Edo State Primary Healthcare Board and the Edo State Health Insurance Commission are currently being setup. These Agencies will ensure we achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) targets for health and wellness across all communities in Edo State,” he said.
The governor said the outlook for the economy in 2018 remains broadly positive, against the backdrop of stable oil prices, higher domestic crude oil production volume and new efforts by Fiscal and Monetary Authorities at tackling deep-seated structural challenges.
According to him “the budget will usher us into a new phase of economic rejuvenation. It is anchored on the six pillars, which will drive our transformation of the state into an investment hub. This growth vision will be driven by investments in infrastructure, reform of our institutions, enhancement of the social welfare of our people, the repositioning of our culture and tourism sector to create jobs as well as the sustenance of our environmental programmes.”
“In addition, the improvement in the national economy, specifically, the rise in crude oil prices, and the vote of confidence by development partners such as the World Bank and the private sector, amongst others, have placed us on the path of progress. We envision a future that will provide jobs and critical social and physical infrastructure for Edo people to realise their God-given potential.”
Reviewing the achievements in the outgoing year, Obaseki said that his administration introduced the Edo Jobs Initiative, where around 200,000 job seekers across the state were registered and the state succeeded in matching 30,000 of these people with job opportunities in the following areas: EDOSEEFOR, 9000; EIRS, 1500; Construction and Electricity Distribution, 6,500; Ministry of Women Affairs, 3000; Private Organisations, 1,250; Entrepreneurship Interventions 4,510 and others.”
“Recognizing that the problems in our secondary and tertiary education can be readily traced to the quality, management, and operation of our basic education system, we immediately commenced a system of transforming and strengthening the capacity of the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) this is with a with a view to ensuring that it lived up to its mandate especially in the area of Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) Capacity building for teachers, refocused its administrative and management structures, and introduced new processes for discipline etc. This is bound to impact on outcomes of our school activities and performances and result in the production of employable graduates in the medium to long term.
On the reforms in land administration in the state, he commended the House of Assembly for their “unprecedented collaboration and the support of His Majesty, Omo N’ Oba N’ Edo, Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Ewuare II. We have restored sanity to the land acquisition and management system in the state with the timely passage of the Private Property Protection Bill into Law. Edo State has become a reference point in this regard and other states are copying this courageous effort of ours, at removing unnecessary encumbrances from our prized land resource, to pave the way for speedy growth in the housing sector and the industrialisation of the state.
“To eliminate red-tape and corruption in land allocation and use, and to lay the basis for urban planning and modernizing our cities and towns, we have created a new Edo State Geographic Information Service (Edo-GIS) that is mainly technology driven and managed by professionals.
“Similarly, we have reconstituted the Edo State Development Property Authority (EDPA) and transferred all the functions of the former Ministry of Housing to it and with a new governance arrangement, the agency will drive new initiatives in commercial and social housing.
“We have established a strong Ease of Doing Business Committee to oversee our full compliance with the National Ease of Doing Business Process anchored on truly global standards as well as a one-stop, shop Edo Investment and Business Bureau. This has eliminated bureaucracy from our business environment for faster results and compliance with established rules.
“Having identified power as a key factor in promoting growth and development, we are pleased that the Azura 450 MW power plant will be completed early next year. We continue to encourage other investors to participate in power generation, and signed a Power Purchase Agreement with Ossiomo Power and Infrastructure Company to provide 5MW to power Government buildings and street lights. We have also been having discussions with the Benin Electricity Distribution Company on the ways to improve electricity supply to the citizens of the State.
“We are redesigning the security architecture of Edo State to ensure that government performs its constitutional responsibility to guarantee the security of life and property. This new architecture is programmed to involve all the Security Agencies, communities, institutions, Wards and Local Governments in the state.
“We have reorganized our public transportation system, reorganized the transport management and traffic control agency and significantly eased the flow of traffic in the metropolis. The state government engaged 650 people in the Edo State Traffic Management Agency (EDSTMA). These courteous but firm and very well-trained men and women have introduced sanity in the traffic situation in Edo State. We have also completed the designs of bus terminals and we are confident that the construction of the Central Benin City Bus Terminal will commence first quarter 2018. We are taking delivery of 75 new commuter buses to restock the fleet of our Comrade Busses very soon.
“Our dream of an industrialised state will be facilitated by the development of the Gelegele Seaport. We are committed to the realisation of this project because of the several socio-economic benefits that are tied to it, namely jobs, a gateway for the exportation of processed products from our industries and the allied businesses it will attract to the state. A Technical Report on the project has been submitted and it is being reviewed for implementation.
“The Arts, Culture and Tourism sector is without contestation a heritage bequeathed to us by our forefathers and a source of pride to every Edo man and woman. We are repackaging and rebranding the sector through Public Private Partnership to harness the job creating opportunities in the sector and raise the profile of our artists, entertainers, tour operators, destination managers and hotel owners in our overall desire to become the preferred tourist destination in Nigeria.”
In his response, the Speaker of the Edo State House of Assembly, Honourable Kabiru Adjoto, commended the governor for his achievements in the outgoing year and assured that the proposed budget will be speedily passed into law.
BY ISAAC OLAMIKAN