|Usoro Akpanusoh, Chairman AKHA Committee on Appropriation/Finance|
A COMMUNIQUÉ ON A ONE DAY PUBLIC HEARING ON THE 2016 AKWA IBOM STATE BUDGET ORGANIZED BY THE AKWA IBOM STATE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS AND FINANCE HELD IN UYO ON FRIDAY JANUARY 8, 2016.
Budgeting for programmes, projects and commitments by governments has gone beyond mere annual ritual exercise. It encapsulates fiscal measures, estimates of revenue, expenditure and implementation strategies. It therefore behooves on government to ensure that inputs from both formal and informal sectors of the economy are sought; obtained, collated, evaluated and incorporated into annual budgets. Such participatory approach does not only make the budget people-oriented but separates needs from wants in a given polity.
In keeping with its avowed commitment to mobilize, articulate, advocate and project opinions and interests of the people, the Appropriations and Finance Committee of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly organized a public forum to garner inputs on the maiden budget of Governor Udom Emmanuel presented to the Assembly on 22nd December, 2015 and christened: “Budget of Sustainable Development”.
2.0 AIMS AND OBJECTIVES
The principal objectives of the public hearing were:
i. To provide a forum where the people of the state would be fully briefed on the 2016 budget proposals.
ii. To provide for stakeholders from within and outside government to impact on the 2016 budget, based on the true democratic ideals that ‘what touches all should be approached by all”.
iii. To provide a forum where different shades of opinion from the people of the State (as individuals, organized groups, etc) would be contributed and collated, for the State to achieve its objectives of rapidly transforming the State into a prosperous, fully industrialized, highly educated and technology-driven pace-setting entity within the Nigerian Federation.
At the end of a robust intellectual engagement between some members of the Executive arm of Government, the Legislature and the relevant stakeholders, the following resolutions were adopted:
i. That the Akwa Ibom State budgets should be articulated within the context of the State’s Economic Development Strategy and the Medium Term Expenditure Framework.
ii. That the 2016 budget should not be predicated on the basis of revenues from crude oil only but henceforth be based on diversified revenue sources.
iii. That to finance the deficit in the 2016 budget the use of debt option should be limited and restricted to financing developmental and economically regenerative programmes and projects.
iv. That the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) target averaging less than N3billion monthly is low. The target for Internally Generated Revenue should be stepped up and new revenue sources explored and revenue based expanded.
v. It was recommended that outsourcing of jobs in the public sector should be discouraged given the availability of quality man-power in the public service. However, if jobs must be outsourced, they should be given to indigenous consultants/contractors that abound in the state, to reduce capital flight.
vi. It was observed that there was a serious infrastructural deficit in the educational, health, science and technology sub-sectors of the state. Consequently, it was resolved that the budgetary allocations to these key sectors be review upwards.
vii. On justice delivery system, it was observed that the State needed enhanced infrastructures and facilities to cater for the needs of the judiciary, including the planned Customary Court of Appeal and the Federal Court of Appeal. Therefore, the budgetary allocation for the justice sector should be reviewed upward.
viii. It was also recommended that adequate provision be made in the 2016 budget to facilitate the revision, production and publication of the laws of Akwa Ibom State.
ix. The allocation of N8.071billion for agriculture was considered inadequate. With the state ambitious economic diversification and industrialization agenda, the proposed budget for agriculture should be significantly increased.
x. It was recommended that to enhance accountability and effectiveness in projects and programmes implementation, Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) should strictly adhere to the functions and responsibilities of their establishments, to avoid roles duplication and conflict.
xi. It was strongly recommended that the various House Committees in the House of Assembly should effectively exercise their oversight functions of monitoring and evaluating the 2016 budget implementation to achieve its cardinal objectives.
The Communiqué Committee is grateful to the Chairman and members of Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly Committee on Appropriations and Finance for the opportunity given to us to serve in capacity.
Mr. Ekong Nkang Innocent Okon, Esq
Chairman, Communiqué Committee Secretary, Communiqué Committee
Unwana P. Idungafa (Mrs) Usoro Akpanusoh
Clerk, Communiqué Committee Chairman, House Committee
On Appropriations and Finance