Rivers budget N485b for 2014 as Assembly holds session in Government House

By The Rainbow

… 23 Assemblymen Approve Budget As Presented
Governor Rotimi Amaechi Tuesday presented a

Rivers State Government has made a budget proposal of N485.524b for 2014 fiscal year.

The state governor Rotimi Amaechi on Tuesday  presented the budget proposal to the state  House of Assembly, which strangely sat inside the old auditorium of Government House, Port Harcourt.

23 out of the 32 lawmakers of the Assembly were present, led by the Speaker, Rt. Honourable Otelemaba Amachree.

Another spectacular development was that the lawmakers deliberated on the budget and passed it as presented by the Governor.

Rivers State has been embroiled in political crisis, which has seen the state governor and his allies pitched against another group promoted by the Supervisory Minister for Education, Mr. Nyesom Wike, with palpable support from the presidency.

The National Assembly had voted to take over the legislative function of the state, but was latter over-ruled by a court of law.

Since the crisis blew open in the house in the third quarter of last year, the state House of Assembly has not been to sit in its normal base.

A total sum of N117.09bn was budgeted for recurrent expenditure of government in 2014 against N177.924 billion for 2013. Out of the amount proposed for recurrent expenditure, N66.96 billion is for salaries. Overhead is put at N23.34 billion. By this proposal, recurrent expenditure is 24.12 per cent of the total budget.

Capital Expenditure proposal for 2014 is N368.43bn against N312. 396 billion in 2013 and represents 75.88 per cent of the total budget.

The governor said the proposal was based on a benchmark oil price of $67.5 per barrel; an estimated oil production of 2.3883 million barrels per day; average exchange rate of N160 per dollar; real GDP growth rate of 7.4 per cent and single digit inflation rate that does not significantly deviate from the 2013 levels.

Amaechi said, 'We are proposing an aggregate Budget of N485.524 billion for the year 2014. This is N4.797 billion (0.98%) lower than the 2013 budget of N490.320 billion. The focus of the budget will be on completing ongoing projects in Health, Education, Roads, Transport, power, Water and Agriculture and other critical infrastructure.

Capital and Recurrent provisions are N247.573billion and N237.950billion respectively. Our Capital to Recurrent ratio is 76:24 for the financial year 2014 as against 70:30 achieved as at September, in this outgoing year.'

'The Proposed 2014 Budget of N485.524 billion will be funded by: FAAC Allocation of N241.243billion; IGR of N92.420billion; Prior year balance of N10.717billion; proposed loans N100billion; credit from World Bank- N6.983billion, EU grant of N0.660 billion and sale of assets of N33.5billion,' he said.

According to the governor, the 2014 budget will focus on  earnest completion of all on-going projects and open minimal windows for exigent and necessary ones which span must not exceed the tenure of his administration, stressing that the 2014 budget will not accommodate new projects.

'This is in the light of current realities and out of a resolve to guarantee efficient service delivery. The economic realities arising from already dwindling revenues since mid 2013 suggest a need for prudence and good sense this year. Government will continue to demonstrate good sense of management by making more money available to finance the ongoing projects for completion next year,' the Governor stated.

According to Amaechi, 'In the process of formulating this budget, we kept with our tradition of consulting widely with all relevant stakeholders in the state. These consultations have helped us remain focused on our commitment to set goals and targets. Policy Makers and civil servants from all MDA's with the Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning worked together to produce this proposal, ' adding 'The entire approach was participatory.'