By: PATRICK TITUS, Uyo
Akwa Ibom State Government has lamented the continuous decline of its revenue from the federation account saying it would have a negative effect on funding for ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) in the 2017 Budget.
Answering questions while giving a breakdown of the 2017 budget in Uyo, Commissioner of Finance, Mr. Nsikan Linus said while the state government would readily fund all the listed projects, the prompt release of funds for such projects would depend on the amount of money accruing to the state government from the federation accounts.
Nkan who was responding to demands by ministries, departments and agencies of the state government that their units received zero funding in 2016 fiscal year, urged the people to pay their taxes to increase government’s revenue to fund projects captured in the budget.
The commissioner who defended the yearly carol festival organised by the state government explained that the programme is self sponsored by corporate bodies as part of their corporate social responsibilities adding that the festivals have contributed to the promotion of tourism in the state.
According to the Commissioner, the state government spent no money in organizing the yearly carol festival, therefore insinuation that the state government spent huge amount of money yearly on the festival was wrong.
On releases for the 2016 budget, he said the state government got a total of N87.8 billion as derivation from N200 billion that was approved representing about 43 percent while it received N30 billion as statutory allocations from N35 billion approved.
According to the breakdown, the state government also earned N10.8 billion from Value Added Tax (VAT) out of the approved estimate of N12 billion representing 74 percent in 2016.
He said the state government also got a refund of N14.5 billion from the Paris Club fund in addition to N9.6 billion budget support facility it received in 2016.
In his remarks, Usoroh Akpan Usoh, chairman, house of assembly committee on appropriation and finance urged government ministries and departments to respond to queries by the committee to enable the affected sectors have access to budgeted funds.
While urging them to identify priority areas that would attract funding, the lawmaker urged individuals and corporate organisations “to assist the state government in achieving the goals of the 2017 budget.’’
In his contributions, Aniekeme Uwah, chairman, state branch of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) appealed to the state government to separate the health sector from the social sector in the budget, adding that increased allocation to the health sector was needed in view of the current outbreak of diseases in a section of the country.
Uwah also appealed for the prompt of release of funds to the health sector for the renovation and more health centres given the importance of good healthcare services.
The 2017 budget was presented in December 22, 2016 to the state assembly, passed in March 9 and assented to by Governor Udom Emmanuel on March 28, 2017.