By Esther Nworie
Following the bad effect of Coronavirus in the economy of country generally, the Governor of Ebonyi State and Chairman, South East Governors’ Forum, Engr. David Umahi, on Wednesday, 24th June, 2020, presented a downwardly reviewed State 2020 budget for public input.
Ebonyi is affected by the pandemic with over 250 patients testing positive though 100 have been discharged while 2 lost their lives to the virus.
Umahi who announced this in Abakaliki during public participation (citizens’ input/ consultation on the revised 2020 budget), said in the review of the budget, the state increased the budget of some sectors like health, education and agriculture with some percentages.
The state budget was reduced from N178.366bn to N131.847bn.
The Governor during the review explained that some ministries, agencies, departments and parastatals’ budget will have to go down because of the pandemic, fall in oil prices and productions, and fall in Internally Generated Revenue, among others.
The Governor however reiterated that he would finish all his projects before the end of his tenure.
He said: “In view of the unfortunate COVID-19 pandemic which has affected the global world economy of which Nigeria is not an exception, the fall in both oil price and daily oil production, fall in IGR etc., the need has arisen to review the 2020 budget to accommodate realistically the effects of COVID-19 crisis management.”
“In doing this, we have made some proposals in our review which we want to publish on different segments of our state to review to enable us finalize the process of revising the budget and its presentation to the House of Assembly for approval.”
“In our revised budget proposal, health increased. So, health that had 9.18% has increased by 8.13% which means that health is coming to about 18% of our revised budget.”
“Education also increased by 1.3%, agriculture by 0.25%, infrastructure by 2.6% and works went down by 16.74% .So, what we have done here is what is called opportunity cost.”
“Some MDAs budget will have to go down and then those essential services that we intend to bring, especially in the fight against COVID-19 both the crisis management and the recovery had to come up and that’s why you see health coming up largest and you see education also coming up because we have elements of crisis management in education.”
“And so, we have proposed a budget of N131.847bn against the approved budget of N178.366bn. We are here before you with a budget review proposal that has the size of 26% reduction. We are reducing our approved budget of N178bn by 26%”.
On the alarming rate of rape in the country, Umahi said the state shall review laws of the state to protect women, noting that rape suspects have always been arrested and released on bail.