By Fatima Muraina
Ondo State Government has commenced the review of the year 2020 budget in order to include emergency expenditures aimed at ameliorating the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the people of the State.
The Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget, Pastor Emmanuel Igbasan stated this during a consultative meeting on 2020 budget review with the Directors of Local Government Employees, Civil Societies Organizations, Women Organisations, Students Bodies, Non Governmental Organisations and other stakeholders.
The State Governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, had last December signed the 2020 appropriation bill of N187b into law.
The Governor said the 2020 budget christened ‘Budget of Growth’, passed by the State House of Assembly, provides for aggregate expenditures of N187, 858,525,273.00.
The budget was divided into N10.508 billion, representing 5.6% for Debt Servicing, N14,180 billion representing 7.6 % as Statutory Transfers to Ondo State Oil Producing Area Development Commission (OSOPADEC), Ondo State Internal Revenue Service (ODIRS) and 10% share of Independent Revenue to Joint Account and Allocation Committee (JAAC) of Local Governments in the State.
The sums of N82.700 billion and N80.470 billion, representing 44.1% and42.7% are for Recurrent Expenditure and Capital Development respectively.
Igbasan explained that the emergence of COVID-19 has changed virtually all the assumptions used to prepare the year 2020 budget.
According to him, the assumptions include crude oil price which has fallen from $57 to less than $25, exchange rate of $1 to N306 now over N360 to $1, oil production dropped from 2.18mbpd to 1.7mbpd and other varieties have been affected negatively.
He said in order to ameliorate these effects on the people of the State, government through the instrumentality of the 2020 budget review, has decided to come up with a program called ONDO-CARES which is the State’s version of the Federal Government COVID-19 response program tagged Nigeria-CARES (N-CARES).
According to the Commissioner, the State Social Investment Program include, Agricultural Advancement Program, Tax incentives put together by the State Internal Revenue Services, Public Workfare- Zero Pot Hole, Environmenal Beautification, Engagement of 2000 youths to plant 10 million trees, Soft loan to Small and Medium Enterprises.
Others are Register Databases of all unemployed citizens of the State merged with Kaadi Igbeayo, Information Communications Technology (ICT), Salary Prioritisation and Protection, Farmers Mobioe Wallet, Aketi Millennium Farmers Initiative among others.
He therefore, appealed to the people of the State to continue to support the present administration in order to enjoy more dividends of democracy.
Earlier in his presentation, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Mr. Bunmi Alade said the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the fore the need for the State economic managers and policymakers to look beyond Federal Allocation and intensify economic diversification.
Alade urged all Ministries and Extra Ministerial Departments to focus on activities that would reduce the impact of COVID-19 on the populace.
While presenting the framework for the review of 2020 budget, the Director of Budget, Mr. Stephen Aworere said the review would afford government the opportunity to prepare a realistic budget for the year.
The Stakeholders commended the Akeredolu-led administration for the initiative to review the budget with a view to meeting the aspirations of the citizens.