By; VITALIS UGOH, Calabar
Cross River State Governor, Sir Ben Ayade on Wednesday signed the state’s 2021 budget into law.
Christened, budget of “Blush and Bliss”, the 2021 budget has a total sum of N281.9billion, a sharp reduction from the previous budget sizes of over 1.01trillion.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Ayade disclosed that the budget has made provisions for the establishment of a state polytechnic.
It also has provisions for social welfare schemes like grants and other financial benefits to help cushion the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the people.
He disclosed that the size of the budget was smaller when compared with previous budgets that were in the region of over one trillion Naira.
The governor attributed this to the fact that his administration has decided to reduce the financial commitments of the state in key projects such as the Bakassi Deep Seaport and the 275km superhighway to just five percent.
These projects, according to him, are now to be built on a Public Private Partnership (PPP) model.
“For the budget of 2021, the bugdet of “Blush and Bliss” the gross component is in the dramatic reduction of the budget size from over N1.01 trillion to 218 billion. One will ask what will then happen to that missing gap?
“We had explained this in the budget presentation that we are shifting from all the big big dreams to the basic, primordial things of survival and ensuring that there is food on the table.”
Continuing, the Cross River state number one citizen said: “We had planned in 2020 that by 2021, we are going to move away from food on the table to food on the table and hands on the plough but with Covid-19 and Endsars protest, we realized that we have to sustain the food on the table further.”
The governor maintained that the 2021 budget was streamlined in order to meet the intended focus, hence it provided only for 5 percent cost for such capital projects as the 275 kilometre Superhighway, the Bakassi Deep Sea port, Calas Vegas Island among others saying the state’s privatization council in partnership with KPMG as their consultants will work to select the best Investors available who are able and willing to invest in the capital projects.
Ayade however, expressed optimism that with the plethora of industries he has so far established taking off fully in 2021, the economy of the state will get a huge boost.
He commended members of the state House of Assembly for sacrificing their comfort and personal pleasure during the Christmas holidays to ensure that the 2021 budget was ready for signing.
Earlier, the Speaker, Hon. Eteng Jones Williams explained that the House made some adjustments in the appropriation bill the governor submitted to it in October to accommodate new realities that were captured in the bill such as the establishment of the Cross River State Polytechnic which bill the governor recently signed into law.