… Seeks to reinvent fiscal regime towards viability and sustainability
The Governor of Anambra State, Prof. Chukwuma Charles Soludo has said that the draft 2023 budget entitled: “Budget of Acceleration” embodies his administration’s single-minded focus and determination to continue to press the accelerator pedals in spite of the risky bumps on the way.
Governor Soludo stated this when he present a draft 2023 budget of about N259.0 billion (compared to the revised 2022 budget of N170 billion) to the Anambra State House of Assembly in Awka on Thursday with with the capital budget of N163.5 billion accounting for 63.1% while the recurrent expenditure of N95.5 billion accounts for 36.9% with a deficit of N13.0 billion.
The Governor who recalled that House approved for the State Government to borrow N100 billion to part-finance the revised 2022 budget, informed that the government had not borrowed a kobo explaining that “We have however applied for N90 billion out of the approved N100 billion and when it comes (we expect so in a few weeks’ time), we plan to roll it over as part of the 2023 financing.”
He revealed that as a reflection of the people’s priority needs, about N91.8 billion or 56% of the total capital expenditure was devoted to roads, transport, power and urban regeneration that the average citizen could feel, see, or use and which had the highest developmental impact within the shortest possible time adding that education, health, youths and women/vulnerable groups had their capital votes more than doubled.
According to him, “We appropriately budgeted for counterpart funding to catalyze resource inflows from our partners. Expenditure on security remains barely unchanged in spite of increased challenges, although some enforcements for law and order will receive increased spending. We will count on the continued support of our people to augment.
“We plan to complete the building of the Anambra Airport within the 2023 fiscal year. A major emphasis is placed on the environment (erosion control, de-silting, tree planting, beautification, urban regeneration, preparations for emergency responses, etc). We will soon come back to you with a draft legislation to engender collective action to addressing the systemic threat of gully erosion.
“Our palm and coconut revolution continues to receive priority. The budget makes very bold statements towards Anambra as an industrial, entertainment/leisure hub, as well as in mainstreaming sports development and “everything technology and technology everywhere”. We are re-inventing government towards E-governance. The judiciary is a critical arm of government and rule of law/ speedy dispensation of justice constitute fundamental drivers of our transformation agenda. Of course, our House of Assembly is appropriately prioritized.
“Critical productive partnerships will be important to execute the 2023 budget and maximize value for our people. The partnership of the federal government/agencies, international development partners, the private sector, Ndi Anambra everywhere, the House of Assembly, Judiciary as well as the local government and community administrations in the state will be imperative.
“A major policy thrust of this administration is to seek and promote active partnership with local governments and communities. Attempting to transform the state from Awka alone without exploiting the fullest potentials of local administrations is akin to clapping with one hand. In partnership with local governments, more responsibilities and resources are being devolved to them, to enable them strengthen institutions for service delivery. Their operations are also being restructured and soon we will be bringing for your consideration, amendments to the State Independent Electoral Commission Law, 2007 as part of the preparations towards credible local government elections.
“At the foundation of the Igbo society is the local community. We are committed to a fundamental transformation of the community governance institution as the true 4th tier of government. A draft community government bill will be presented to you soon and the 2023 budget provides for matching grants scheme to incentivize communities for optimum service delivery.”
He, however, challenged them to reinvent the fiscal regime towards viability and sustainability even as he insisted that at the heart of Nigeria’s fiscal crisis was its poor capacity to extract tax revenues besides oil rents. He maintained that now that oil money was on its way out and Nigeria increasingly had little choice but to rely on taxes to provide services to the citizens, there was the fundamental challenge of how to appropriately tax generations who do not know taxes as “duty” nor trust the government to use it well.
“As a people, we need to have a serious conversation on how best to fund our aspiration for a livable and prosperous homeland for an itinerant people. With our people scattered all over the world but with dual residences — permanent home addresses in Anambra where they are buried at death (expecting government to protect them and provide infrastructure to access such), what should be our civic duties to the homeland?
“On our part, our contract with Ndi Anambra is that every tax revenue entrusted to us will be fully and transparently accounted for. On the other hand, we enjoin everyone to be a responsible citizen, discharging his/her civic duties. Every government project now advertises the fact that it is your tax money that is at work. It is not Governor’s money, not anonymous government money, but your tax. Our target is to gradually raise our IGR with a target of 3- 5% of GDP over the medium term. We are reforming and digitizing our tax system and kicking out the tax merchants and touts who, for decades, collected government revenue for themselves. We are simplifying and harmonizing taxes to minimize multiple taxation, as well as eliminating or reducing taxes for the poorest segments of society”, he said.
While noting that the draft 2023 budget would be his administration’s first full year budget in office, the governor added that the size may be small relative to the needs and size of Anambra’s economy but they were determined to ensure full value for money for the people. “We are constrained by the need to take measured steps to create value while ensuring fiscal sustainability. It is possible that the key macro economic assumptions underpinning the budget might change after the 2023 elections. If the changes are significant, we may have to come back with a revised budget”, he stated.
“Under any scenario, our 2023 budget sign-posts our strategic direction and key deliverables as we march towards a livable and prosperous homeland. Yes, the road ahead is bumpy but Anambra is winning. We are taking back our state from criminals; mapping and planning out our industrial and leisure/entertainment cities; modernizing our cities and transport systems including water transportation; orchestrating mass access to high speed internet as foundation to creating our digital tribe and investing in our human capital. Scores of investors are lining up and many already on ground. Our 2023 budget appropriately prioritizes several structured programmes to empower our youths, women and vulnerable groups. These critical demographics constitute our today and our tomorrow.
“What we need is to continue to bond together as a patriotic team for development. We shall defeat evil together. We shall lift our homeland up, together. In our State Anthem, the only line repeated thrice is: “Lift the spirit of Anambra— State we love”! As an itinerant people with an undying love for our homeland, this is now the time to translate our homeland consciousness and love into action. Everyday, each of us, wherever you may be must ask himself what you have done today to make Anambra livable and prosperous. With God on our side, and with all our feet together on the accelerator pedal, Anambra will soar beyond imagination”, the governor concluded.