By Ikuru Lizzy
Port Harcourt, Dec. 2, 2020 Gov. Nyesom Wike of Rivers on Wednesday presented N448,660,773,476 billion to the Rivers State House of Assembly for the 2021 fiscal year for consideration.
The budget titled: “Budget of Recovery and Consolidation,” is made up of N305, 894, 284.061 for capital expenditure, while N142,776,489,415 is earmarked as recurrent expenditure.
Wike, while presenting the budget to lawmakers during plenary said the budget represented more than 20 per cent increase over the 2020 Revised Budget of N300 billion.
He said the capital expenditure, representing 68.18 per cent of the total sum constituted: Administrative Sector N87.7 billion, Economic Sector N105 billion, Law and Justice N1.7 billion, Social sector N132 billion and deductions/Loan repayments N38 billion.
The governor explained that the capital budget would be deployed to advance the economic growth and social progress of Rivers by targeting and prioritising investments.
He said N82.9 billion was budgeted for provision of infrastructure, including roads, bridges and the completion of flyover projects at Okoro-Nu-Odo, Rumuola, Rumuogba, and GRA junctions all in Port Harcourt metropolis.
“We will also deliver the Ogoni/Andoni/Opobo unity road, the Eastern bypass dualisation, 6th and 7th flyover projects and the Wakama road as well as all other ongoing rural roads in our communities and local government areas across the state,” he said.
He added that over N6 billion was earmarked to stimulate economic growth through investments in commerce, culture and tourism, mineral resource development as well as addressing environmental challenges.
According to him, N13 billion is budgeted to fund various social and economic investment schemes to support the development of MSMEs and reduce poverty in the state.
The governor, however, noted that economic challenges of the COVD-19 clearly exposed the state’s vulnerability to food insecurity.
As a result, he said N16 billion was appropriated for targeted investments in the agriculture value chain in a bid to create employment and enhance food security of the state.
On education, he said N30 billion was budgeted to boost infrastructure, enhance access and retention rates and improve educational outcomes in schools throughout the state.
He added that the sum of N25 billion was mapped out for health care services for the 2021 fiscal year.
“The 2021 budget will also prioritise security and sustain existing efforts in combating insecurity and keeping residents safe and secure,” he said.
Wike noted that the recurrent expenditure of N142,776,489,415 represented 31.82 per cent of the 2021 budget.
“Out of this sum, N76 billion is for personnel costs; N18.8 billion is for overheads and N47.7 billion will be for grants and transfers to the consolidated revenue charges,” he further said.
He expressed optimism that the measures in the budget would place the state on stronger economic footing towards achieving the new Rivers vision for a peaceful, secure, inclusive and prosperous society.
Reacting to the presentation, Speaker of the House, Ikuinyi Ibani, lauded the governor’s commitment towards transforming the state’s economy and described the budget as a balanced plan.
Ibani assured the governor of the lawmakers’ continued supports to his administration, adding that they will diligently consider the budget to facilitate the continued development of the state.