Akwa Ibom 2016 budget is performance based – Speaker
By: Patrick Titus, Uyo.
Speaker of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Barrister Onofiok Luke has described the 2016 State Budget presented to the Assembly by Governor Udom Emmanuel for approval as performance based where sectoral allocations depend on revenue generation capacity.
Luke who stated this at citizens’ forum on the State 2016 budget organised by Policy Alert, a Non Governmental Organisation (NGO), said the public hearing initiated by the Assembly was to enable the people make input into the budgeting process, adding that it would continue to listen to suggestion from the public towards the realisation of the budget.
“Our goal is to have a budget that will have an impact on the people. The 2016 budget has taken a different approach due to the fall in the price of oil but we are ready to hear suggestions from the public to make it realizable”, he said.
The Speaker who was represented by Mr. Bassey Umoren, an official from the legal department of the Assembly, pledged the commitment of the 6th Assembly to ensure the implementation of friendly programmes that would have positive impact on the lives of the people.
According to him, the House would always remain people friendly in the budgeting process and would continue to conduct public hearing and ensure public participation in the budget process.
In his remarks, Tijah Bolton Akpan, head of Policy Alert, organiser of the event lauded the state Assembly for ensuring the public have their voice in the budgeting process but said the quality of participation of the people should however be improved with enough notice given to the people .
Akpan who lauded the state’s government determination to move away from dependence on oil as its major source of revenue, however noted that there was no link between the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and the budget estimate.
Expressing concern over the “high cost of governance based on recurrent and overhead expenditure,” he said that there was a progression in capital expenditure while critical sectors such as health, education and agriculture had reduced allocations despite plans to move away from oil dependency.
“A look at budget trends in the state over the past ten years shows a steady rise in cost of government corresponding with rise in oil-derived revenues from the centre. In 2015, the state’s overhead bill was the highest in the country. This House has an opportunity to address that fiscal anomaly,’’ he said.
He commended the state government over the ongoing commitment to capital investments, especially in infrastructure but expressed dismay that the capital to recurrent ratio has suddenly narrowed from the much applauded 6:1 ration in 2012 to less than 2:1 in the appropriation bill with serious implications for capital conversion into economic and social gains.