Cross River State Governor, Ben Ayade, yesterday, presented a budget of N277b for 2021 to the state House of Assembly. Tagged: “Budget of Blush and Bliss,” the appropriation bill was presented to the House without the usual reading of a prepared budget speech.
The state government had been presenting huge budget figures since 2016 without executing up to 30 per cent of its projection. For instance, it budgeted N303b in 2016, N707b in 2017, N1.3tr in 2018, N1.4tr in 2019 and N1.1tr in 2020. But experts described the N277b appropriation bill for 2021 as a more realistic budget proposal.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic and its negative impact on global, national, state economies and other indices, the state government slashed its 2020 budget by about 80 per cent to N147b.
On the 2021 budget, Ayade explained that of the figure, N192.5b or 67 per cent would be for recurrent expenditure, while N88.196b or 33 per cent would be for capital expenditure.
He explained that the budget was people-oriented, hence he set aside 67 per cent for recurrent expenditure to meet immediate and physical needs of Cross River people in the aftermath of the COVID-19 and #EndSARS protests.
“Due to the cumulative impact of the disasters that characterise 2020 and after due consultations, my executive council and I decided that this year’s budget will focus more on the humanitarian perspective.
“We have decided to shift focus from infrastructure, from big projects and refocus on the people. So, this is the people’s budget, a budget in which for the first time, we are shifting from infrastructure and major projects that can create opportunities to focus on the very essence of existence, as well as reduce hunger and poverty.
“We decided to focus on agriculture, youth employment, social housing and skills development for youths to create opportunities for Cross River people,” he stated.
On security, Ayade disclosed that the budget made provision for the establishment of neighbourhood security watch, which would deal with the issues of neighbourhood protection and also create jobs for the youths.