Friday, February 26, 2016 10:36 am
The Kwara State House of Assembly has passed the 2016 budget with an assurance to the people that the House would ensure that the budget is vigorously implemented
BY STEPHEN OLUFEMI ONI/ Ilorin
The Kwara State House of Assembly on Thursday passed the 2016 Appropriation Bill, raising the size of the budget, it christened Budget of Expansion, from the proposed estimate of N116.16 billion by the state government to N128.10 billion, which is an increase of about N12 billion.
After the passage of the budget, the Speaker, Dr. Ali Ahmad, stated the resolve of the House of Assembly to ensure, through effective oversight functions, that a minimum of 70% performance of the budget is met, noting that this would translate into injecting a total sum of N89.67 billion into the economy compared with the actual performance of 2015 budget figure of N46.76 billion.
He said: “Although it may seem ambitious, this increase in our estimated revenue is achievable. The new and vibrant Kwara State Internal Revenue Service, KWIRS, has the collective capacity and this House is currently in the process of amending the Revenue Service Law to further enhance its power and reach. From a meagre N10.24 billion Internally Generated Revenue, IGR, in 2015, we expect a minimum of N32.65 billion this year.
“ Today, we are happy that we have passed an Appropriation Bill that, when signed into law, will set Kwara state on a path of sustained progress. We are happy because this budget will pass most of the vital indices of a balanced and people-oriented budget.
“For instance, the total recurrent expenditure (non-debt) is N50.58 billion which is 42.88% of total budget compared to capital expenditure of N67.35 billion which represents 57.11% of the total budget. A capital expenditure of over 57% of total budget expenditure is a feat that overwhelming number of states and even federal government have found very difficult to achieve.
“ Why will we not be happy in Kwara when this is a state where a community may decide on any project relating to water, health, education, road or energy and government will provide 90% of the cost of the project while the community provides only 10% to own the project? Our rural communities are happy because when they pay only N500 per annum by enrolling in our Community Health Insurance Scheme, the enrolee will have access to healthcare and free drugs for the entire year. “
Commending members of the House for being painstaking and thorough with the budget, Dr. Ahmad opined that whether the budget is effectively implemented or not would depend on the quality of the oversight activities that members undertake.
He said: “We must police the budget and, in circumstances that its provisions are not being implemented, issue decrees and orders so to say as stipulated by the constitution. We know that the highest political offence in our constitution is non- implementation of the budget, and the sentence, when convicted by the legislature, is not imprisonment but capital political punishment.
“To my honourable colleagues, let us ensure that this budget is vigorously implemented. I therefore urge us all to take our oversight functions seriously. To all of us in government, let us ensure proactive implementation of the budget and that is the only way that the campaign promises of this government will be delivered to the people.
Acknowledging that the passage of the bill has raised the hope and aspirations of the people of the state, the Speaker said the people would feel disappointed if the total implementation performance does not shoot beyond the minimum goal of 70%, urging that they must not allow this to happen.
He said: “ Another challenge is how to ensure that of every N1 spent on capital project, no less than 70 kobo goes directly to the stated project. Verified data out there is that in Nigeria, for every N1 we claim to have spent on a project, only 30 kobo is actually spent on that particular project. It is therefore equally our challenge to raise this 30 kobo to 70 kobo. Honourable colleagues, are we ready to do this for our people? Are we ready to make the contractors accountable?
In the spirit of moving the state forward, Dr. Ahmad urged arm-chair critics who indulge in criticising anything and everything coming out of the state, without offering alternatives or constructive advice, to join the government by analysing the facts and figures and presenting their critique so that government can tap from their wisdom