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Friday, 08 December 2023 05:06

[OPINION] 2024: Enugu’s Budget of Disruptive Economic Growth - Peter Mbah

It is with great honour and a deep sense of responsibility that I stand before you today to present our state’s 2024-2026 Multi-Year Budget before this hallowed chambers. This event is of even more import given that it is this administration’s first full year budget, which will go a long way in setting the pace for the achievement of our growth objectives.

It is not so long ago that we presented the revised budget for 2023 before you, honourable members of the House of Assembly, and I must again recognise your expedited consideration of that bill and put on record our appreciation for your commitment. In line with human nature, we have become accustomed to this level of commitment and, therefore, request that you deploy a similar degree of dispatch in your consideration of this current bill.

As you are aware, we had taken a bold view of the growth our state is capable of achieving if we are willing to believe in ourselves and utilise our God-given human and material resources to their fullest. Our vision remains ‘To make Enugu one of the top 3 states in Nigeria in terms of Gross Domestic Product and achieve a zero percent rate in the poverty headcount index.’ We also intend to grow our GDP from the current $4.4b to $30b before 2031.

To achieve these ambitious goals, we have adopted a number of philosophies, which have also found expression in this budget I am presenting today. The first philosophy is that private sector involvement is critical to the generation of the growth that we seek, and consequently we must invest in the factors required to attract private sector investments such as basic infrastructure and amenities (like roads and water supply), transport services as well as modernisation and digitalisation of our public services and their associated processes. Second, we have taken the view that one of the surest ways of ensuring sustainable eradication of poverty is through the aggressive enhancement of our education and public health systems. After all, we know that education corelates all over the globe with economic advancement and prosperity, while health, on the other hand, is critical for the optimisation of the human resources of any nation or sub-national entity.  Finally, but most critically, we have taken the view that reliance on allocations from FAAC has not served us well to date and is unlikely to take us to the ‘promised land’. Consequently, you will see in this budget a philosophy to maximise our internal revenue generation efforts, by improving the efficiency of collections, enhancing the efficacy of government services to the populace and evolving creative new revenue generation sources particularly by optimising our natural resources, for example, improved oversight and regulation of mining activities and landed assets.

Before going into the current budget proposal, permit me to cast a glance backwards at our performance in the past period. By end of year 2022, this Honourable House approved a budget size of One hundred and sixty-six billion, six hundred and two million, four hundred and sixteen thousand, seven hundred and seventy naira (N166,602,416,770).  During the 3rd quarter of 2023 there was need for a supplementary budget to accommodate new projects and programmes arising from priorities of the new administration in Enugu State and also to reflect the price variations due to inflation. The budget was therefore revised to a tune of two hundred and twenty four billion, six hundred and ninety seven million, eight hundred and ninety-nine thousand, and sixty three naira (N224,697,899,063).

Based on this revised budget, we have been able to make some appreciable progress in fulfilling our promises to Ndi Enugu over the last few months. In our view, some of the more notable achievements have included the following:

We have recently launched the ultra modern water scheme at Ninth Mile which has a daily production capacity of 70 million cubic meters (70,000,000m3) of clean water, combined with the production of 50 million cubic litres from Oji River. This gives a total volume of 120 million cubic meters per a day as against less than 2,000,000m3 we met on resumption of office. This achievement disrupts over two decades water scarcity in Enugu urban, and also fulfils our promise to Ndi Enugu to provide Enugu urban residents with water within 180 days. 

 We have awarded contracts for the construction and rehabilitation work on the over 81 roads, including several urban roads as well as some priority non-urban roads such as the dualization of Enugu Airport flyover, to Eke Obinagu and Ebonyi border, approximately 22km, and also the construction of Owo-Ubahu-Ama Nkanu-Neke-ikem road of approximately 45km. As you may be aware, work on these roads has since commenced.

We have also expanded the National Cash Transfer Register of the Federal Government from 43,000 to 260,000 beneficiaries. The expansion was to accommodate more poor and vulnerable residents in the state in line with our vision to eradicate poverty. 

We have commenced the accumulation of 300,000 hectares of land for our land bank, which will be made available to corporate farmers for massive cultivation of agro produce. In line with this, one partner firm is already planting cassava under the pilot scheme of Cassava to Ethanol Programme in Aninri, Nkanu East, and Uzo Uwani LGAs. Related to this, we are advancing conversations with key development agencies for the development of Special Agro Processing Zones (SAPZs) in the 3 senatorial zones of the state.

We also held the Enugu State Investment Roundtable which attracted the best of the private sector as well as development partners such as AfDB, AFREXIM, FCDO, the WB, etc, thus signalling our government’s zeal to transform Enugu State into private sector driven economy.

In line with our commitment to reinvent our education system in Enugu State, we are constructing 260 Smart Model Basic Schools across the 260 wards in the state which will rank amongst the best in the country.  The pilot Smart Model Basic School in Owo, Nkanu East Local Government Area is now ready for commissioning and similar Schools will be replicated in all the 260 wards across the 17 LG councils in the state.

We are also in the process of constructing 260 Type-2 Primary Health Centres across the 260 wards in the state to carter for the health needs of rural communities which are paramount in our health care agenda.

Last but not least, in recognition that no economic growth is possible without security, we have ensured the discontinuation of the ignoble Monday sit-at-home campaign and boosted the security framework within the state with the introduction of the Distress Response Squad, which has recorded several successes, effectively bringing the crime rate in Enugu State to a bare minimum. We are going further by commencing the installation of a CCTV surveillance network around the state. Work is at an advanced stage on this initiative.

The 2024-2026 Multi-Year Budget is named Budget of Disruptive Economic Growth. This is on account of the fact that it is structured to drive growth in a markedly different pattern than we had attempted to do hitherto. This departure from the usual is most apparent in two main areas. First, our approach to basic education where we are bringing into effect our cut-off program through the development of the 260 model schools to which I had earlier alluded. These schools are unique, not only in the fact that they will house the entire basic school classes from creche to JS3, but also in terms of the significant changes we are making to the curriculum of the children, where we will be infusing new subject areas like Technology, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, to mention but three. In addition, the approach to teaching in these schools will be experiential, with extensive use of practicals, examples, dramatization, gamification, and so on. This naturally requires extensive re-training of our teachers to enable them to grasp these new learning approaches as well as the various technology-based teaching and learning tools which we shall deploy examples of which are tablets, interactive white boards, learning management systems, etc. Beyond the ‘hard’ elements of learning, we will also infuse many ‘softer’ elements such as ethics, morals, critical thinking and hygiene to prepare our children to become the leaders we need tomorrow.

 Another major area of positive disruption that finds expression in this budget is our drive to change our approach to public service by infusing the use of technology. In this regard, we are in the process of developing a new automated approach to governance, that will involve the automation of all MDAs in the government both in terms of how they run their internal operations and in terms of how they serve the populace. Upon conclusion of this transition to e-governance, it will be possible to initiate most government services without once visiting any government office or physically interacting with any public officer. This will result in increased operational efficiency in government and a higher level of service delivery with fewer revenue leakages. Implementing this will naturally require extensive training and re-training of our public servants to acquaint them with both the new technological tools required as well as the improved work processes to be adopted in executing their work functions under this new dispensation.

Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, permit me to present the summary of recurrent and capital allocations and its proposed allocations to each sector that makes up this new Budget of Disruptive Economic Growth.

We are proposing a total budget of size of ₦521,561,386,000.00 for the 2024 fiscal year as against the approved revised provision of ₦224,697,899,063.00 for 2023. This represents a 132% increase from the 2023 revised budget. The budget is broken down as follows:

Recurrent Expenditure:                                        

N107,227,266,000.00

Capital Expenditure:

N414,334,120,000.00

Total:

N521,561,386,000.00

In the area of our revenues, we estimated that total recurrent revenues during 2024 will amount to ₦383,789,000,000.00 as against the approved revised provision for 2023 of ₦143,571,592,917. The recurrent revenues for 2024 are broken down as follows:

Opening Balance:

N11,000,000,000

Internally Generated Revenue (IGR):

N252,789,000,000

Statutory Revenue:

N60,000,000,000

Excess Crude and others:

N16,000,000,000

Value Added Tax (VAT):                    

N44,000,000,000

Total Recurrent Revenue: 

N383,789,000,000

For 2024 Fiscal Year, Recurrent Expenditure which is proposed at ₦107,227,266,000.00 is made up of:

Personnel Costs:

N47,583,677,000

Overhead Costs:

N41,804,698,000

Consolidated Rev. Fund Charges:

N17,838,891,000

Total Recurrent Expenditure:

N107,227,266,000

With the total recurrent Expenditure at ₦107,227,266,000.00, this translates to a Net Recurrent Revenue of ₦276,561,734,000.00, which is thus transferred to the Capital Development Fund.

The total Capital Expenditure for the year 2024 is projected at ₦414,334,120,000.00 as against ₦135,715,099,693.00 for 2023 Revised Budget. The current capital expenditure estimate will be funded from the sum of ₦276,561,734,000.00 to be transferred from the Consolidated Revenue Fund, and the capital receipts of ₦137,772,386,000.00 to be realized as follows:

External and Internal Aids and Grants:  N27,922,386,000

Public Private Partnership: N6,100,000,000

Domestic Loans/ Borrowings Receipts: N71,000,000,000

International Loans/ Borrowings Receipts: N32, 750,000,000

Total: N137,772,386,000

On a sectorial basis, the capital expenditure is broken down as follows:

Administration Sector    

N20, 877,662,350

Economic sector

N207,837,753,513

Law & Justice Sector

N1,225,643,490

Regional Sector

N1,443,550,000

Social Sector

N182,949,510,648

As I mentioned earlier, education is a key plank in our strategy to eradicate poverty in our state. Consequently, ₦134,587,982,647.78, representing 73.6% of the social sector has been earmarked to help reinvent education in our state by developing the new Smart schools which I mentioned earlier as well as repositioning our senior secondary and tertiary institutions by training and retraining teachers and updating our curricula across all levels of education to infuse technology and technology appreciation and skills. This capital expenditure on education combined with the planned recurrent expenditure in the sector will bring our total spend on education to 33% of the total budget.

Healthcare remains paramount, especially in these challenging times. This budget allocates the sum of ₦ 21,777,421,000 to enhance healthcare facilities, expand access to quality healthcare services, and bolster our response to health emergencies. Our goal is to ensure every citizen has access to reliable and efficient healthcare. We pledge to upgrade healthcare facilities, ensure the availability of essential medicines, and implement initiatives to enhance public health awareness. In particular, we have commenced the construction of 260 Type-2 Primary Health Centres across the 260 wards in the State to carter for the health needs of rural communities.

We also understand the significance of infrastructural development in propelling economic growth. Hence, ₦82,535,147,361.03 is planned for road construction, maintenance, and rehabilitation of public building across the state. This initiative will facilitate smoother connectivity, bolster trade, and enhance overall accessibility, and attract investments that create jobs.

The sum of ₦28, 970, 250, 000 is planned for the enhancement of the water sector to ensure safe and quality water supply to Ndi Enugu. This investment will ensure the expansion of the current water scheme by boosting reticulation of water across the Enugu Metropolis.

Agriculture remains a crucial sector in our drive towards self-sufficiency and economic diversification. We are committed to developing at a Special Agro Processing Zone in each of the senatorial zones. In deed, we have reached an understanding with a development agency for the first one on which work will commence this year. These zones will enable us to support farmers with modern techniques, infrastructure and access to markets, ultimately boosting food production and creating employment opportunities. We are also in advanced stages of discussions with funders for the development of a Quality Assurance Centre in Enugu to facilitate the export of agro commodities from the Enugu Airport. In order to achieve this, a sum of ₦25,184,154,671.81 has been earmarked for this sector in the 2024 budget.

Additionally, this budget prioritizes job creation, empowerment programs for our youth, and initiatives to attract private sector investment. We are dedicated to fostering an environment that encourages entrepreneurship and innovation, thereby unlocking the full potentials of our vibrant populace.

Furthermore, we are committed to ensuring good governance, accountability, and the prudent management of public funds. We will work tirelessly to eradicate corruption and promote a culture of transparency in all government activities. Fiscal prudence and accountability will remain at the core of our financial management. We will ensure transparency in the utilization of resources, optimizing every naira to deliver maximum value for the citizens of Enugu State.

To support our fiscal initiatives and improve implementation effectiveness, this administration will also pursue the following initiatives:

Sustain an effective collaboration with security agencies and strengthen our logistic support to remain among the most peaceful states in Nigeria; increase Public Private Partnership (PPP) with relevant investors to invest in the key sectors of the state economy and undertake robust human capital development;

expand the industrial base of the state through rapid industrialization and harnessing of untapped mineral resources in the state; provide an enabling environment for the private sector to thrive through extensive improvement in the ease- of-doing-business ranking of the state; increase the domestic revenue base (IGR) significantly by eliminating evasion and leakages in collection and expenditure; develop the tourism potentials of the state and enhance creative industry;

stimulate the agricultural and agro-allied industries to boost production of local farmers to ensure food sufficiency for local consumption, exports as well as the provision of raw materials for the industries; rapid empowerment of children, women and youths through capacity building, empowerment, skill acquisition and elimination of gender discrimination practices; re-orientation of public servants through training & retraining, effective intra and inter MDAs collaboration by digitizing operations to enhance service delivery; provide recreational and sporting facilities to increase life expectancy, boost sports development and ensure improved performance of the state representatives at local, Nlnational and international sporting competitions; strengthen performance monitoring mechanism with a central coordinating unit at the Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning Commission; improve fiscal transparency and accountability in all MDAs with emphasis on due process and cost effectiveness in all programs and projects of government.

Mr. Speaker and Honourable Members, this budget of Disruptive Economic Growth of ours represents our collective aspirations and endeavors to build a more prosperous, inclusive, and resilient Enugu State. Consequently, I urge all stakeholders to join hands in this journey towards a better future for all residents. Together, we will achieve greatness and leave a legacy of progress for generations to come.

Thank you and God bless you and the entire people of Enugu State. I wish you a happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

 Certainly, our Tomorrow is here!

Being the text of Governor Mbah’s speech during the presentation of the 2024 Appropriation Bill at the Enugu State House of Assembly on 5th December 2023

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