The Oasis Reporters
December 6, 2023
… growth, employment enablers, road infrastructure, health, education, others top priorities
The Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, on Tuesday, presented a N325.3bn budget to the Edo State House of Assembly, for the 2024 fiscal year, which is a slight increase from the N320bn budgeted for the year 2023.
Obaseki, who presented the budget to the Assembly, at the Anthony Enahoro Assembly Complex in Benin City, said the budget is made up of N178 billion for Capital and N146 billion for Recurrent expenditure.
Obaseki said with the budget christened, ‘Budget Home Run: Finishing Strong,’ his government intends to, despite the global economic headwinds and attendant implications for the national economy, marshal resources to complete ongoing projects across the State in furtherance of government’s commitment to the wellbeing and prosperity of Edo State and sustain efforts to improve the ease of doing business, consolidate on key reform programmes and conclude all transactions needed to stimulate economic growth.
The governor noted that the total projected revenue for 2024 is N303 billion, consisting of N55billion statutory allocation, Value Added Tax (VAT) of N38billion, capital receipts of 40bn; IGR of N72 billion and N10 billion from grants, among others, adding that “the revenue estimates are based on a $65 per barrel benchmark for crude oil with an average daily production of 1.60m barrels per day as well as an increase in Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) to N72bn, which will be bolstered by reforms in revenue collection, property laws and land management reforms.”
Obaseki said the focus areas for the 2024 fiscal year include growth and employment enablers such as the trailer and transit parks, ICT infrastructure, Benin Port projects, which will gulp N85bn; road and transport infrastructure, N62bn; health, N33bn; education, N32bn and buildings, physical planning and development control, N21bn.
Other areas include Social Welfare/Benefits N16bn; Environment, N5bn; Electricity, N7bn; Agriculture, N6bn and Youth, Social Development and Gender, N6bn.
According to him, the 2024 budget is informed by the need to build a resilient and sustainable foundation for the reforms, initiatives and programmes that we have embarked on in the last seven years.
“The ultimate target is to promote economic expansion, technology, arts and culture, social inclusion and economic empowerment for Edo citizens, through sustained investments across various sectors of the economy necessary to drive growth and development. Public Private Partnership (PPP) will continue to dominate our investment initiatives in the New Year,” the governor added.
He stated, “Though resources are not at the optimum and our revenues are severely impacted by prevailing lag in the economy, we will sustain efforts to improve the ease of doing business, consolidate on other key reform programmes and conclude all transactions needed to stimulate economic growth.”
The governor further stated: “Mr. Speaker, as a subnational we have very little say on monetary policy but our aim is to stabilize our macro-economic environment through effective use of limited fiscal policy. This will enable businesses, investors and households plan and implement production, investment and consumption activities effectively within our state.
“The State’s fiscal policy is envisaged to control and enforce compliance with established spending limits to achieve a sound budgeting system, which includes aggregate fiscal discipline, allocative efficiency and effective spending that can propel Edo State’s economy to be among the top three most developed states in the country by 2050.”
According to him, “The year 2023 has been characterized by political and economic uncertainties, especially with the devaluation of the naira by almost 100 percent and the removal of fuel subsidy which led to a threefold increase in the price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS).
These policies have added to the already tough economic and social conditions faced by our citizens, resulting in thousands more slipping into poverty.
Mr. Speaker and Honourable members, despite these challenges, we continued to keep faith with the mandate of delivering good governance to our people. We continue to focus on improving the welfare of our workers while emphasizing those policies which will help us overcome the current challenges we face.
We achieved these by ensuring expansion of the economic space, attracting private capital, improving the ease of doing business, upgrading public infrastructure and transitioning to a more responsive and reliable digital work mode.”
On achievements in the outgoing year, the governor said, “In the outgoing year, Edo State Government went fully digital, simplifying work processes and assuring better services for investors and other key stakeholders in government, setting the pace in Nigeria as the first government entity to go full-paperless.
“We are proud to have set this record and are determined to sustain the gains made so far. We expect that with the investment made in building a tier 4 data centre and other interventions, we should be well-positioned to adopt Artificial Intelligence (AI) in governance in the near future.
“Aside from attracting private capital to drive economic activity, the new work mode has improved service-wide efficiency and performance thus ensuring speedy and better service delivery for our citizens.
“These new improvements are reflected in public procurement, revenue collection, land management, project management, basic education, and healthcare delivery, among others. All of these are powered by technology, built on a digital infrastructure spanning over 2000km of fibre optic broadband connectivity that runs across the 18 local government areas of the State.”
He continued: “This investment has implications beyond public service delivery, as it powers the digital economy, providing new opportunities for work and learning for our youths.
“The transformative efforts have resulted in the digitisation of over 9 million government records, training of 6,000 staff and deployment of 10,000 digital devices to workers.
“Majority of the activities of Edo State Government will now take place from six hubs or locations which are the Secretariat Hub with six buildings; the education hub in Iyaro; the Health Hub in the Stella Obasanjo hospital complex; the Agric Hub located in the ADP complex on Airport Road; the Built Environment Hub on Sapele Road and Transport Hub in the Ministry of Works complex. Majority of the offices have been rebuilt, furnished and connected to electricity from the Ossiomo IPP and high-speed fibre optic internet infrastructure.”
On human capital development, Obaseki stated, “We have continued to extend our investment in the basic education sector through the EdoBEST programme, so as to ensure a better, brighter and more fulfilling future for our children.
“Under EdoBESST 2.0 reforms have begun disarticulating JSS from SSS in line with the national policy on Education. The Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) is being redesigned to align technical education with the needs of industry and private businesses.
“From the Edo State Polytechnic, Usen to the Edo State University, Uzaurie and the Ambrose Alli University, we have sustained sweeping reforms to improve teaching, upgrade infrastructure and support staff to attract private sector partnerships in institutional building and expansion programmes.
“The Edo State Polytechnic, Usen, recently forged a partnership agreement with Shaanxi Polytechnic in China and Yong Xing Steel company to enhance the quality of technical education. Following the Investment Summit in Fujian Province, China, we have received a draft Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) from another Polytechnic for collaboration.
The Edo State College of Agriculture has also kicked off at the main campus in Iguoriakhi. It provides critical manpower to the state’s fast-growing commercial agriculture sector.”
Reeling gains of efforts in the health sector, the governor said, “Our reform in the healthcare sector in the State is taking firm footing as the backbone of the system, the Edo State Health Insurance Scheme which has now recorded over 200,000 subscribers.
“Upon the disarticulation of the Central Hospital, we are improving facilities across a network of 50 Primary Healthcare Centres in partnership with the private sector. This will be supported by secondary, tertiary, and specialist hospitals, which provide comprehensive healthcare across the three senatorial districts. We have completed the Outpatient Department at the Stella Obasanjo Hospital and installation of world-class equipment has commenced.
“A key priority for our administration is to build the human capital required to drive the healthcare system. We are rebuilding the Edo State College of Health Technology to train the personnel required to man and strengthen our primary healthcare system.
“Indeed, our reforms in the healthcare system are yielding fruit with the incursion of more private players in the space. One of such is the world-class Merry Ehanire Mother and Child Hospital, which is to serve as a centre for medical tourism in the State as it boasts of bespoke facilities to manage a myriad of medical conditions.”
Other areas of impact, according to the governor include public safety and security, Infrastructure, Physical and Urban Planning, and Investments to Spur Economic Revolution, among others.
He further stated, “As we prepare to leave office, there is an imperative to ensure sustainability of the interventions we have undertaken these past years, especially as it relates to our development plans. So, we will soon be approaching the House for legislation to enact laws to guarantee long-term planning efforts.
“Mr. Speaker and distinguished members, we are on a home run and we are determined to finish strong next year. As a result, we are committed to completing the projects we have started and making remarkable progress on our legacy projects.
“We are ready to make the necessary adjustments to attract the right kind of investment and partnerships to build a reliable foundation for Edo’s future. Working together, we are sure of finishing strong and ensuring our people live life to the fullest.”
On efforts to cushion the impact of the federal government’s fuel subsidy removal on the people of Edo State, the governor said, “In mitigating the fallouts of the subsidy removal, we introduced a number of social safety nets, such as the provision of free Wi-Fi connectivity in public spaces to ease work and also provide a platform for youths to participate in the gig economy.
“We also introduced free bus rides in the State through the Edo City Transport Service (ECTS), with an initial two-month pilot phase.
“Over 1.5 million residents benefitted from the first phase of the scheme which covers all intra and intercity routes operated by the State-owned Edo City Transport Services (ECTS),” Obaseki added.
Receiving the 2024 budget proposal, Speaker of the Edo State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon Blessing Agbebaku assured the Governor that the legislative arm will continue to work harmoniously with the executive to ensure the socioeconomic growth and development of the State.
Hailing the governor for his developmental strides across all sectors of the State, the Speaker commended the governor for extending the free bus service across the State by three months.