Governor Bassey Otu of Cross River State has presented a budget estimate of N250 billion for the 2024 fiscal year.
Otu, who presented the proposal to the state House of Assembly on Thursday in Calabar, christened it “The people’s first budget.”
Capital expenditure tops with 61.6%
According to the governor, out of the N250 billion proposed, capital expenditure will gulp N154 billion, while N96 billion is for recurrent expenditure.
Otu said the budget was designed to consolidate on the gains of his predecessors as it also intended to improve on the welfare and wellbeing of the citizens and residents of the state being his first budget since assumption of office in May 29, 2023.
“We have prioritised a higher capital expenditure over recurrent expenditure in our public expenditure structure. This is a complete departure from the usual norm.
“As a deliberate principle, we have maintained a higher capital expenditure to recurrent expenditure of 61.6 percent and 38.4 percent, respectively.
“This does not only emphasise the importance of structural development but also a demonstration of the state’s commitment to the provision of the much- needed infrastructural facilities in our rural and urban cities,” the governor said.
He further stated that the budget would target the completion of projects executed by his predecessors, payment of remuneratory obligations to both civil servants and retirees, grants, livelihood support, as well as vocational trainings /empowerment among many others.
Giving an insight on how the budget would be funded, apart from monthly federal allocation and donor funds, Otu explained: “In order to actualise the proposed development agenda based on the aforementioned expenditure profile, we need to collectively make sacrifices in terms of payment of taxes and levies as at when due.
“The state internal revenue service has been repositioned to ensure that every taxable adult is brought into the tax net.”
While strongly emphasising his commitment to the socio-economic transformation of Cross Riverians through agriculture as one priority area in the budget, Otu maintained: “We shall continue to leverage on the comparative advantage we enjoy in agriculture to create job opportunities in the agric value chain to reduce youth restiveness and create a harmonious society because if the youth population, if not fully engaged, is a time bomb waiting to detonate.
“Mechanised agriculture shall be pursued vigorously to ensure food sufficiency and zero hunger according to the Sustainable Development Goal Number Two of the United Nations.”
Other areas of priority include education, health, environment, infrastructure and youth development.
Earlier, Elvert Ayambem, the speaker of the Cross River State House of Assembly, commended the governor for keeping to the state’s fiscal law by presenting the budget before the October 31 deadline, and expressed the readiness of the lawmakers to work for a speedy passage of the 2024 fiscal estimate.