Akwa Ibom government has solicited inputs from stakeholders and various interest groups in the preparation and planning of 2021 as parts of efforts to ensure inclusiveness.
It has however given an indication that the budget will focus on activities that will aim at mitigating the adverse effects caused by coronavirus pandemic.
Akan Okon commissioner for economic development and Ibom deep seaport made this known in Uyo during a meeting organised by his ministry in conjunction with the State Ministry of Finance to receive feedback from the public on the amended 2020 budget as well as to work out guidelines for gathering inputs for the 2021 budget.
According to him, the 2021 budget will also focus on the provision of the pro-poor stimulus packages as well as pay attention to food and health-related expenditures.
“We will also focus on; protection of the means of livelihoods and increasing food security to poor and vulnerable families, facilitating the recovery of local economic activities as well as household micro-enterprises and generation of employment, especially for the youths, through labour-intensive public work and commercial agriculture,” he said.
While encouraging members of the public to freely make inputs to the phone lines, web addresses and social media sites provided for contributions to the budget planning, Okon assured that the 2021 budget will not be business as usual
In his contributions to the planning process, the Secretary-General, State Joint Association of Persons with Disabilities, Akaninyene Isidore appealed to the state government to make specific budgetary allocation for persons with disabilities.
Isidore who reported that not less than 2000 children with disabilities are out of school in the state, made case for the remodeling of public schools to enable such children to have access to conventional education.
“We appeal to the state government to make budgetary provision for remodeling of public schools to be inclusive and accessible. We also want the state government to adopt the draft proposal for inclusive education in the state,” he said.
He alerted the state government of a bill to prohibit discrimination against persons with disabilities in the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly and used the occasion to appeal to the 7th Assembly to facilitate the process of passing such bill into law.
Speaking on behalf of the Civil Society Organisations, Harry Udoh, state Chairman harps on the need for transparency in budget planning and implementation processes to enable citizens, as beneficiaries to play an active role in a plan which concerns them.
Udoh who however queried the reviewed 2020 budget for its failure to specifically identify plans and projects, also appealed to the Ministry of Economic Development to speak to the Governor to assent to the fiscal responsibility act that was signed into law.
The citizens’ budget committee set up last year is a step in the right direction. If the budget is for the people then they must be involved. We, therefore, commend the state government for creating the opportunity.
“We must ensure transparency and accountability in governance. I hope the process would be extended to the Local Government to get people to make inputs on how to go about the 2021 budget. Responsiveness to the yearnings and aspirations of the public is the best form of governance”.