BY IFEANYI CHUKWUU NWANNAH
Governor Abdulazeez Yari of Zamfara state has presented a budget proposal of N92,849,731,500 for the year 2015 fiscal year and the to the State House of Assembly penultimate Monday.
According to the Governor, Zamfara State is to spend N92,849,731,500 out of which N50,022,048,668 and N42,827,682,832 as recurrent and capital expenditure respectively. The budget is about 19 percent lower than that of last year which he said the expected budget proposal is thus estimated at N92, 849,731,500.
Governor Yari explained that, it is not a moment for stocktaking. The budget which he captioned “the budget of consolidation” according to him is bearing a strong message of policy continuity, saying that his administration is ready to continue with road construction within the first quarter of the year as well as health and water supply.
He assured that, in the cause of implementing the 2015 budget, the government will embark upon constructing seven major roads linking several communities across the state. The Governor noted that, the revenue expected to be generated in the year 2014 both from external and internal sources, his administration budgeted the sum of N114, 808,451,294 made up of expenditure while the sum of N49, 993,901,294 was allocated for recurrent expenditure.
He said that, the implementation of 2014 budget was seriously affected by shortfalls accruing from federation account, the administration’s inability to secure bonds and bank loans and the failure of the federal government to rain burst the state with the amounts spent for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of federal roads to the tune of N30 million.
Governor Yari explained that the state statutory allocation stood at N41, 700,002,958 reacting 92 percent as against N45,121,821,455 estimated for the year. He noted that, on the part of internally Generated Revenue N2,096,395,320 was realized against N3,116,964,852 which he said represented about 67 percent. On external loans, the Governor said it stood at N350,000,000 against N486,750,000 budgeted out of the N350,000,000 estimated as internal loans and bonds only N6,700,000,000 was accessed, Value Added Tax was N8,093,756,429 which he said is above the estimated N8,000,000,000.
He said that only N73, 230,174,707 was realized out of the projected sum of N114, 808,451,294 for the 2014 fiscal year which he said represented 63 percent of the expected revenue. Governor Yari stated that his intension to pursue bonds in the year 2014 was to upset the burden of huge loan incurred by the state, adding that due to some technical administrative and political exigencies, he was not able to access the funds as envisaged. This he said among other reasons adversely affected the implementation of the 2014 budget.
According to the Governor, the 2015 budget proposal was prepared following the shortfalls accruing from federal government account as a result of the steep decline in the prices of oil in the international market. He noted that his administration took into account the other factors such as the decline in the value of Naira as a result of deliberate measures taken by the Central Bank of Nigeria.
He submitted that the internal debt service has been posing great challenge to the effective budget implementation throughout the period of his administration. The debt burden, he said arose as a result of the substantial backlog of loans repayments. The government he said had paid about N21billion which is about 128 percent over and above the estimated amount set for internal debt servicing.
Governor Yari said that the inability to his administration to exploit the bond fund in 2014 budget necessitated the use of large part of the recurrent revenues in the fiscal year for the repayment of loans very much higher than earlier estimated. He said that due to dwindling resources coming from federation coffers as a result of decline in oil process in 2015 fiscal year.
The Chief Executive said, the proposal of obtaining the long term fund through bond issuance has more than ever before become very necessary, pointing out that his administration will pursue it more vigorously to enable the administration to offset all short term loan obligations and concentrate long term settlement to a long term consolidated and healthier centre as intended in 2014 fiscal year.
Reacting to the 2015 budget proposal, the Northern Youth Assembly said, the decision by the Executive to slash the 2015 budget proposal by 19 percent is a welcome development in lieu of the present economic reality of time, hoping that the law makers will maintain the status quo to enable the administration ensures reasonable percentage in terms of its implementation.
The Northern Youth Assembly also welcomed the decision of the government to allocate up to 58 percent of the total budget to capital expenditure as well as 42 percent to the recurrent expenditure especially when considers the need for the administration to ensure total completion of all the on-going project across the state and hope that the legislators will not make any amendment to that effect.
It also upheld the decision to restructure Gusau waster barrage to allow for more access to portable drinking water to the residence of Gusau. If only the state government can abide by its decision and award contract to the most competent contracting firms. But the Northern Youth Assembly observed some issues in relation to the items contained in the budget document.
That the proposed construction of conventional Airport as contained in the 2015 proposed budget is needless especially with the present economic crisis in the international oil market and the need to allocate more money to other sectors like agriculture, commerce and industries and skills acquisition programme to make the teeming youths self reliance and to help boost the state internally Generated Revenue.
The Group also condemned the allocation of billions of naira to the construction of additional seven roads across the three senatorial zones which it suggested that part of the money should have been used in settling the 2014 WAEC/NECO expenses as well as invest heavily in the infrastructural development at the state School of Nursing and Midwifery so that the School can get its full accreditation because of the number of kilometers covered by the administration within three and a half years.
The group called on the legislators to ensure that the proposed budget is designed in line with the state medium term expenditure framework so that the government vision in the long run can be clearly ascertained.
It also called on the Executive arms to make the content of the state austerity measures in lieu of the current economic woes facing most of the northern states, Zamfara inclusive very clear so that state actors may know where to come in and support the administration for the development of Zamfara state.