2024: Gov. Otu presents N250bn People’s First Budget

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Gov Bassey Otu laying the 2024 Appropriation Bill before the tenth assembly on Thursday
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…Capital expenditure tops with 61.6%

 

Cross River State Governor, Senator Bassey Otu, has presented an estimate of N250 billion for the 2024 fiscal year.

Otu, who presented the budget before the Cross River House of Assembly on Thursday in Calabar, christened the budget as “The People’s First Budget.”

According to the Governor, out of the N250 billion proposed, capital expenditure will gulp N154billion, while N96billion is for recurrent expenditure.

Otu opined that the budget was designed to consolidate on the gains of his predecessors as it also intended to improve on the welfare and wellbeing of the citizens and residents of the state being his first budget since assumption of office in May 29, 2023.

“We have prioritized a higher capital expenditure over recurrent expenditure in our public expenditure structure. This is a complete departure from the usual norm.

“As a deliberate principle, we have maintained a higher capital expenditure to recurrent expenditure of 61.6 % and 38.4%, respectively.

“This does not only emphasize the importance of structural development but also a demonstration of the state’s commitment to the provision of the much needed infrastructural facilities in our rural and urban cities,” the governor said.

He further stated that the budget would target the completion of projects executed by his predecessors, payment of remuneratory obligations to both civil servants and retirees, grants, livelihood support, as well as vocational trainings/empowerment among many others.

Giving insight on how the budget will be funded apart from the monthly federal allocation and donor funds, Otu explained, “In order to actualize the proposed development agenda based on the aforementioned expenditure profile, we need to collectively make sacrifices in terms of payment of taxes and levies as at when due.

“The State Internal Revenue Service has been repositioned to ensure that every taxable adult is brought into the tax net.”

While strongly emphasizing his commitment to the socio-economic transformation of Cross Riverians through agriculture as one priority area in the budget, Otu maintained: “We shall continue to leverage on the comparative advantage we enjoy in agriculture to create job opportunities in the agric value chain to reduce youth restiveness and create a harmonious society because if the youth population, if not fully engaged, is a time bomb waiting to detonate.

“Mechanized agriculture shall be pursued vigorously to ensure food sufficiency and zero hunger according to the Sustainable Development Goal Number Two of the United Nations.”

Other areas of priority include education, health, environment, infrastructure and youth development.

In his address earlier, Speaker of the Cross River State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Elvert Ayambem, commended the governor for keeping to the State’s fiscal law by presenting the budget before the October 31 deadline, and expressed the readiness of the lawmakers to continue to work for the speedy passage of the 2024 fiscal estimate. He, however, urged for legislative autonomy as it was urgent and would deepen democracy.

The Speaker said, “The issue on the front burner is the much talked about legislative autonomy which has taken the centre stage in both national and international fora. As we are here today, the Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria (PASSAN), the umbrella union of the staff of the legislature, has declared industrial action with effect from November 2023, for failure of government to grant this autonomy. It is my hope that Your Excellency, in conjunction with his colleagues in other states, would look into this matter with a view to averting the strike action.”