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Critical appraisal of Anambra’s 2023 budget

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IT IS generally taken that in every fiscal year, government undertakes a comprehensive articulation of expected revenues and expenditures to fulfill its constitutional mandate to the people.

  The governor of Anambra State, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, on assumption of office in March 2023, had to review his predecessor’s budget and got the nod of the state House of Assembly. The highlight of the budget review was intention to source N100billion from the financial market to kick start his revolutionary steps to transform Anambrainto “a liveable, prosperous, smart megacity that will be the preferred destination to live, invest, learn, work, and relax and enjoy”.

  The substratum of the revolutionary governance hinged on five pillars of agenda viz: “security, law and order, robust economic transformation from an informal economy into a new industrial-tech-leisure hub”.

  It is exhilarating to observe that Soludo did not “take prisoners”, as it were; rather he had to hit the ground running  and declared a state of emergency on road infrastructure which unarguably underpins a jumpstart in the socioeconomic growth and development of the state.

  In his seven months in the saddle, Soludo has lived up to his billings that undergird his solemn promise to mediate good governance that had eluded the state. He has nailed the reason why governorship should be rotated among the three senatorial districts because of nepotistic siting of developmental projects and programmes. This, he did by gratuitously spreading road projects to all the 21 local government council areas in the state to the joy of the people.

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  To make socioeconomic growth and development from the prism or concept of “bottom-top approach”, he raised the communities marching grants, a transformative innovation of Governor Willie Obiano. Underscoring the categorical imperative of the innovation, Soludo in his speech while presenting the 2023 budget said: “At the foundation of the Igbo society is the local community; we are committed to a fundamental transformation of the community governance institution as the true fourth tier of government… there should be marching grants to incentivise communities for optimum service delivery”.

Tagged “Budget of Acceleration, the fiscal policy was according to the governor “embodied in single minded focus and determination to continue to press the accelerator pedal in spite of the risky bumps on the way”.

  To demonstrate the top priority given to road infrastructure, a whopping budgetary provision of N164.2 billion (63.2 per cent of the entire budget) was to be set aside for capital expenditure.

  Apart from the sourcing for a loan of N100 billions to be rolled over to the 2023 budget proposals, it is interesting to note that the House of Assembly had few weeks ago, passed a motion urging the governor to seek more loans for basic infrastructures viz: “roads, transport, power, and urban regeneration which have tremendous developmental impact within the shortest possible time” which is the cornerstone of socioeconomic growth and development especially in the hinterlands.

  The saying that “money is the sinews of war” was aptly demonstrated by the ebullient Chief Executive of Anambra State through a budget for counterpart cash contributions(CCC) ostensibly to “catalyse resource inflows from our development partners”.

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  In addition to the sourcing for revenues germane to the actualisation of the developmental grand plan, Soludo had at the inception of his administration deployed state of the art technology to shore up the dwindling internally generated revenues (IGR). In the budget speech, he planned to raise IGR at 3-5 percent of GDP over the medium term, reforming and digitizing tax system and kicking out tax merchants and touts” who had been making ducks and drakes with government’s sources of IGR during the loose days of previous administrations.

  Going by the pragmatic budgetary provisions, it is timely and apposite to make a passionate appeals to the governor to not only factor but accord top priority to the completion of the intra communities roads awarded by Governor Willie Obiano at the eve of his electioneering campaign for the second tenure.

  He, without making adequate financial provisions, awarded road projects in virtually all the communities in the state only to tar half of the stretch of the roads.

  Disaster of unimaginable proportions reared its ugly head as rain and massive flood ravaged the remaining portion of the roads with the result that people could not access their abodes. In Oraeri, Aguata Local Government Council Area for instance, the raging flood had uprooted shops at the market square and thrown the artisans out of income earnings.

  Completion of the abandoned road projects ought to be a priority before doing new road projects to give the unfortunate communities a sense of belonging.

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  Secondly, for over 11 years, some pensioners have been crying over the deliberate refusal of the past two administrations to harmonise pension with the result that many pensioners have been receiving peanuts monthly. It is not enough to boast about paying pension but the value of what is being paid. By law, the affected pensioners must be paid the 11 years a cumulated pension arrears from May 2011 to date.

  There were three pension audits since 11 years but after the exercise, it was dumped even as there was a recent pension audit at the inception of the present administration.

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