By Emmanuel Antswen
Makurdi, Nov. 5, 2020 Gov. Samuel Ortom of Benue on Thursday presented the 2021 appropriation bill of N132.5 billion to the State’s House of Assembly for consideration.
According to Ortom, the figure represents N23.7 billion or 18 per cent increase from the revised 2020 budget.
Presenting the bill on the floor of the House, Ortom said N90.8 billion was proposed as Recurrent Expenduture while N41.7 was earmarked for Capital Expenditure.
Ortom also presented 2020 supplementary budget estimates of N20 billion for consideration, adding that the revised 2020 Budget anticipated aggregate revenue estimates was N108.8 billion.
According to him, the Economic Secctor will gulp N51.3 billion, Social Sector N44.5 billion, Administrative Services to receive N33.8 billion, while Law and Justice gets N2.8 billion.
He said his administration was working hard to improve the quality and impact of its expenditure for effective development.
We are also working to improve the quality and impact of our expenditure. To this end, we are establishing a budget intelligence unit and also strengthening the existing efficiency unit in the ministry of finance to monitor the quality of expenditure.
“We are undertaking state-wide payroll reform, including the deployment of technology using the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS).
“We are also making good progress towards the comprehensive implementation of the Treasury Single Account; completion of the Benue State Geographic Information Service (BENGIS) project, which will enhance data for planning and monitoring as well as improve revenue administration,” he said.
The governor regretted that the global impact of COVID-19 on national economies would be an inhibiting factor in the successful implementation of the 2021 budget.
“We are exploring every opportunity to ensure that this budget works for our people in spite of all the constraints.
“We are undertaking a debt sustainability analysis with the aim of restructuring some of our existing financial obligations and thereby reducing the monthly repayment burden on our revenues.”
He noted that the 2020 budget had to be revised owing to the debilitating impact of COVID-19 and the oil price war between Russia and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
“The economic pressures and fiscal constraints that prompted the 2020 downward budget revision are still very much with us, and the outlook for 2021 and beyond is not rosy.
“In addition to these, is the high rate of unemployment and poverty, insecurity, youth restiveness and breakdown in citizens’ trust of government that has been highlighted in the recent EndSARS protests.”
The governor disclosed that despite paucity of funds, his administration was able to make significant achievements in the areas in education, infrastructure, healthcare in 2020.
He said by the end of the second quarter of 2020, the State realised the total sum of N47.4 billion representing 43.63 per cent of the approved aggregate revenue estimates.
In his remarks, the Speaker, Benue House of Assembly, Mr Titus Uba, assured the governor that the budget estimates would be given adequate attention.