WRITTEN BY EMEKA ARINZE
The 2017 fiscal economic plan of Anambra state, which Governor Willie Obiano presented to the Anambra State House of Assemble this week, is indeed a budget for economic recovery and inclusive growth following the balanced nature of the estimate.
The expected income is equal to the planned expenditure profile of the budget, whose size is one hundred and fifteen point five billion naira.
While the state government is expected to spend fifty-six point six billion naira on payment of salaries, pensions, allowances, promotions and other Recurrent Expenditures, it will set aside fifty-eight point nine billion naira for maintaining, constructing and reconstruction of our roads and other Capital projects. The 2017 projection is an 11% increase on the 2016 budget.
This is commendable as it will give room for the provision of more democracy dividends to Ndi Anambra by Governor Obiano’s administration. It is also the administration’s response to the very difficult economic situation forced upon us by the present Recession. Yet, in this budget, as in the ones before it, its primary focus remains the development of Anambra’s economy and the laying of a foundation for a future that everybody can all be proud of. The 2017 estimate projects future job increases and improved social welfare.
Highlight of the 2017 capital estimate indicates that Road construction and rehabilitation will get the highest sectoral allocation with twenty-four billion naira. This means that Governor Obiano will focus most on the completion of on-going road contracts awarded by the last and current administration in line with his Continuity Promise to Ndi Anambra.
Agriculture follows, with the aim of the state government to make Anambra a top three producer of rice, maize & cassava in Nigeria. To achieve this, the government has increased the budgetary allocation to agriculture in 2017 by over 500% to five point four billion naira, compared to 2016. Governor Obiano is making this strategic investment to improve rice production in the State to ensure that Anambra reaches and surpasses local consumption capacity of three hundred and twenty thousand metric tones.
Obiano equally plans to rehabilitate, equip and upgrade the College of Agriculture, Mgbakwu, increase funding for fertilizer procurement and distribution to rural farmers, create and fund the Fishery Development Youth empowerment scheme and other agricultural programs in 2017.
Under the community development program, the state intends to develop over three thousand hectares of land in partnership with some development partners, including FADAMA and IFAD.
On education, the Anambra state government plans to spend three point four billion naira in the sector, part of which is to support the improvement of teachers’ and students' welfare as well as educational infrastructure. The government will specifically continue to incentivize and deploy teachers to rural cum hard-to-reach areas; finalize the re-tooling of Special Education centres as well as provide grants and scholarships to exceptional students.
No doubt, the Obiano administration is very youth friendly. Thus, given the current economic situation, it plans to increase spending on youth empowerment and social investments to ameliorate the impact of the recession on our unemployed youth, the poor and most vulnerable.
Obiano plans to significantly increase spending in social development and Youth empowerment to one point six billion naira in 2017 in line with the objective of stimulus package; which aims to deepen government social welfare activities amidst the challenging economic situation.
The state government will also work closely with the Federal Government in 2017 to roll-out various social investment programs such as The Home Grown School Feeding Program, which will feed about eighty thousand pupils and employ one thousand Teachers and The Conditional Cash Transfer Program, which will provide five thousand naira each to more than ten thousand poor and vulnerable households across the twenty-one Local Government Areas in the state. This is not all.
Governor Obiano equally plans to implement another round of the twenty million naira Choose-Your-Project Community Program to enhance rural infrastructure in the State.
More so, Governor Obiano plans to kick start an innovative project to help develop markets across the state next year. In this policy initiative, each of the sixty-one major registered markets in the state will be offered an opportunity to implement a project of their choice at a cost not exceeding ten million naira to enhance the environment of the markets.
In the area of water resources and public utilities, the state government shall, in 2017, rehabilitate and operationalize over one hundred and sixty uncompleted water schemes and develop effective water reticulation networks in the State. In addition, it will sustain the street lighting program across additional towns in the state.
Admittedly, this investment will further reduce criminal activities, sustain the growth of night life and enhance the overall aesthetics of the state.
It is therefore not in doubt that the 2017 budget will serve as an all-important compass, guiding the activities of government in these trying times into a new phase of economic prosperity. Thus, the esteemed thirty wise members of the State Assembly are requested to expeditiously pass the capital estimate to enable the state sustain and surpass the pace of progress in Anambra.