Friday, 4 December 2015

“I have no intention to increase taxes, levies, rates in 2016—Gov. Obiano

Gov. Obiano
By Okechukwu Onuegbu

Anambra State Governor, Chief Willie Obiano has stressed that his administration has no intention to increase taxes, levies and rates in the state in 2016 despite the economic situation in the country and the move to increase the state internally generated revenue.

Obiano, who disclosed this while presenting the 2016 budget proposal of one hundred and one point four billion naira (N101.4bn), entitled “the Budget for Efficiency, Optimization, Productivity and Job Creation” on the floor of Anambra State House of Assembly presided over by Rt. Hon. Barr. Rita Maduagwu, acknowledge that the current economic situation will pose major challenges to his government in 2016, but assured that his administration would surmount them to bring about N2.2bn in IGRs representing an 80% rise on current levels.  

According to him, the 2016 appropriation will overcome the challenges of limited resources, large portfolio of legacy projects inherited from his predecessor, strategic priorities, and implement economic policies and sector growth strategies with a view to achieving fiscal stability and discipline, grow and maximize internally generated revenues, improve productivity in public service to engender inclusive economic growth, sustainable development and job creation for the citizenry.

He also maintained that the current political dispensation will sustain government counterpart contributions with development partners such as UN Agencies, World Bank, EU, etc. in order to attract greater funding support to key social sectors, refocusing and reorientation of what he termed “Economic Pillars” (Agriculture, Oil & Gas, Industrialization and Trade & Commerce), focusing on revenue maximization and leveraging public-private-partnerships to implement medium-term sector strategies, inclusion of a limited number of new, but strategically necessary, capital expenditure items not included in the unimplemented portion of the current fiscal year’s budget with emphasis on MDA(s) budgetary allocation efficiency by ensuring value for money, through prioritization as highlighted by the zero-based budgeting system.

The governor added that his administration had created a fiscal responsibility committee to act as a clearing house for all budgetary requests in 2016 for policy coordination, effective sectoral spending and efficient settlement systems, implementation of the treasury single account initiative to improve accountability and transparency through ensuring that MDAs operate one single account in which overheads and other minor non-capital expenditure funds will be warehoused centrally in the State’s treasury to enhancing revenue collection, reporting and remittances.

His words: “In the coming fiscal year, Capital Expenditure is projected at N52.8bn while Recurrent Expenditure will be N48.6bn.  These figures imply a Capital to Recurrent Expenditure ratio of 52:48 as against 67:33 in the current year. We have projected N12bn in counterpart and concessionary funding from our development partners. Although the Federal Government acknowledges its obligations to Anambra State to the tune of N25bn for funds expended on Federal roads and infrastructure, we expect to receive at least N14.5bn in refunds from the Federal Government. We budgeted N10bn in domestic concessionary debt financing to fund capital expenditure; while our personnel costs are projected to rise by 13% to N16.6bn due to scheduled promotions. Consolidated revenue fund charges are projected to rise by 50% to approximately N12.4bn”.

On what contained in the 2016 budget, he explained that works & Infrastructure stands for N30.0 billion; Education is N3.0 billion; Health – N2.45 billion; Public Utilities – N1.8 billion; and Agriculture (Rural Development) – N1.02 billion, and pointed out that the expenditure on road infrastructure received significant proportion (57%) of the planned Capital Expenditure so as to complete on-going road contracts, while that of education focuses on providing conducive environment for teaching and learning, deployment of teachers to rural/hard-to-reach areas, repositioning of Special Education Centres, and Technical and vocational education at three model Government Technical Colleges in the three senatorial zones of the state, setting-up a functional and efficient education management information system structure, and science laboratories in public secondary schools to a state-of-the-art level, capacity building and ICT training programmes for teachers and students, issuance of grants and scholarships to deserving indigent students, improve active participation in sports and academic competitions, etc.

He revealed that his budgetary estimate for health was aimed at implementing the Universal Health Insurance Scheme for affordability and accessibility of  healthcare services to all and sundry, passage of Universal Insurance Law, implementation of the National Health Insurance Guidelines, renovation and equipping of at least two general hospitals in each Senatorial Zone to meet up with the requisite quality and hygiene standards for accreditation by the National Insurance Scheme, strengthening of Primary Healthcare delivery, scaling up the Mobile Ambulance and Emergency Services Scheme, upgrading of the three General Hospitals per each senatorial zone to Specialist Hospitals for training of doctors and other health workers, construction of a new school of nursing, establishment of Anambra State drug distribution channels to regulate drugs market and prevent sale and distribution of fake and counterfeit drugs, as well as introduction of a Traditional Medicine Board to regulate the practice of Traditional Medicine in the state.

Similarly, he averred that for water and public utilities, he would rehabilitate existing water treatment plants in cities and water boreholes in rural locations, develop effective reticulation networks for distribution of potable water produced from rehabilitated water treatment plants and boreholes, power generation & distribution, extension of distribution network points to improve electricity distribution in the state, installation of transformers across the state, establishment of power generation solutions in the state to increase power supply, captive power (government parastatals and street lights) embedded generation through Enugu Disco Alternative power generation solution (renewables) power Audit, conduct a power audit to assess the state of power distribution infrastructure in the state, determine the current energy demand, and project future energy demand. 

The governor formally renamed the Anambra State Ministry of Youth and Sports Development to Ministry of Youth Entrepreneurship and Sports Development in order to developing the youth through self-employment that will aid individual fulfillment and communal growth stressing that at present, his job creation capacity has risen to over 100,000 placements in civil works, agro ventures, personal care services and computer technology sectors, while training is ongoing at the Federal Youth Centre facility at Mgbakwu, State College of Agriculture, Mgbakwu, among other vocational centres and technical institutes across the state.

“Anambra state is currently the home to 46% of the Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSME) activities in Nigeria which is the critical engine room for job creation and entrepreneurial activity in any developing economy. Through the Anambra State Small Business Agency, we have been able to empower SMEs via well-structured funding and capacity building programs to the tune of N1.0 billion. Over the next six months, we plan to roll out a N1.0 billion micro lending scheme to support small scale farmers, cottage industries and other players in the informal sector”, Obiano proposed.

He described the 2016 Budget Proposal as representation of his continued drive for real, inclusive and sustainable growth for the wellbeing of Anambrarians, well thought-out and articulated development policies, capturing the hopes and aspirations of every citizen of the state to give a priority and concerns for infrastructure, food security and human development, and introducing series of innovations aimed at ensuring that the state successfully weathers the impending economic storms.

Governor Obiano also disclosed that his administration explicitly executed the 2015 budget, entitled ‘Budget for Wealth Creation and Social Cohesion, attracted investments of $2.5bn in 19 months, rev up the state revenue drive from the N500m inherited monthly to N1.3bn, ongoing three flyovers projects in the three strategic locations in Awka,  roads and bridges including 47 kilometer road and bridge to the oil and gas fields in Anambra East, transformed the state from the centre of crime and criminality to the status of the safest state in Nigeria, 15% increase in workers’ salaries, cleared the N1.9bn arrears of salaries owed the state Water Corporation Staff and approximately N1bn pension to local government retirees, cheques of N1m each disbursed to 25 prisoners he granted amnesty in the state, academic excellence on SSCE examinations and competitions, sports, etc.

He further clarified that his administration inherited the sum of N36bn in liquid assets from his predecessor, Peter Obi and a portfolio of legacy projects of N107bn not N75bn as widely reported, yet he had paid the sum of N35.1bn on all projects inherited from the past administration and N11.7bn on projects so far initiated by his administration.

Speaking on behalf of the state legislators, the Chairman, House Committee on Finance and Appropriations, and member representing Anambra East state Constituency, Hon Chris Emeneka explained that they will look into it for speedy passage, even as he charged the state ministries and parastals to quickly submit their respective 2016 budget estimate for timely scrutiny.

In an interview, Anambra State Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Hon. Afam Mbanefo disclosed that his ministry was ready to partner with the state government to realised its dream and vision for Ndi Anambra through entrenching creativity and innovative technology for mechanized agriculture; wealth and job creation.



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