By Asuquo Edem
Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly yesterday passed the 2018 budget of N646, 649,512,690 Billion(Six hundred and forty six billion, six hundred and fourty nine million, five hundred and twelve thousand, six hundred and ninety naira) which is N5b less the N651b as presented by the State Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel last year. The 2018 Appropriation bill was passed following consideration of the report submitted to the House during Plenary by the Chairman, House Committee on Appropriation and Finance, Mr. Usoro Akpanusoh.
The Appropriation bill which is made up of a recurrent expenditure of N94,649,636,740 billion has capital expenditure of 431,141,236,420 billion and Consolidated revenue fund of N120.858 billion
In his remarks shortly after the passing of the budget, Speaker of the House, Barr. Onofiok Luke who said the Assembly was legislating for the economic and social good of the state, disclosed that the House of Assembly in the discharge of its responsibility has by the action put up a legal framework and fiscal architecture that would help the Governor Udom Emmanuel led administration in consolidate on its industrialization programme.
Priority is given by the house for health care and education under the social sector, and agriculture and job creation under the economic sector while considering augmentation to the original provisions in the budget.
“It is in commitment to the wellbeing, growth and prosperity of our people that we have today passed a legal framework and fiscal architecture to help this administration consolidate on its industrialization ambition. We have discharged our responsibility within our legislative competence to ensure that the 2018 appropriation law is an expression of the yearnings and aspirations of our people. We weighed these desires during the public hearing by the Appropriation and Finance Committee. We were also able to project into the 2018 budget proposals and made increases where they were expedient, and savings, where they were necessary, having studied the 2017 budget implementation report”.
“Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly is in sync with the position of the governor in creating job vacancies in the public service in addition to what the private sector is currently doing, as government in the state remains the single largest employer of labour. This is indicated in our nod for the proposal for the recurrent expenditure without savings. As a house, we appreciate the efforts of the governor in the area of economic diversification. We acknowledge the administration’s wealth distribution and job creation efforts through vigorous development of the agriculture subsector. It is for this reason that we have made augmentations in the Ministry of Agriculture for the provision of specialized agricultural programmes like the integrated farmers scheme, women agricultural empowerment programme. Specifically, we increased the proposal for women agricultural empowerment programme by 800 million from the original provision of 210 million. The aim is to make provisions for the economic empowerment of women, create wealth and provide jobs through agriculture”.
Meanwhile, the House will hold plenary today, Wednesday, February 14 for the consideration of report of the alteration of the 1999 Constitution. The report was forwarded to the State Assembly by the National Assembly.
It would be recalled that Governor Udom Emmanuel had last year forwarded an estimate of N651 billion to the Assembly for consideration and approval for the 2018 fiscal year. However, the approved budget as passed by the House of Assembly indicates a decrease of about N5 billion from the initial budget size forwarded to the legislature by the Governor. After adopting the report of the Committee on Appropriation and Finance, the House dissolved into the committee of supply where lawmakers considered and accented to the 125 line items on the Appropriation bill and the recommendations of the Appropriation and Finance Committee of the House.