Tuesday, 24 August 2021

C'River state Govt begins 2022 Budgeting Cycle, calls for citizens participation

Group photograph of stakeholders present during the Consultative forum to kick-start the 2022 Budget Cycle in Cross River State as organized by Department of Budget and Monitoring and Evaluation 

The Government of Cross River State has called on citizens and residents of the State to get involved and be interested in the budgetary cycle of the state as the budget cycle for 2022 kicks off. 

This was contained in a statement by the Special Adviser on Budget, Mr Otu Otu-Ita during a one day Consultative Forum held in Calabar put together by the Department of Budget, Monitoring and Evaluation, in preparation of the 2022 budget cycle. 

The event which was aimed at getting input from the public, as represented by Civil Society Organizations, traditional institutions, youths, intergovernmental organizations and the media, took place on Tuesday at the Conference Room of the Cross River Geographic Information Agency (CRGIA) in Calabar, the state capital.

Speaking at the forum, the Special Adviser on Budget, Mr Otu Otu-Ita, said the forum was a deliberate step taken by the state government in making sure that the 2022 budget, captures inputs from the wider society, thus ensuring even spread of democratic dividends.

While thanking the citizens for the significant contributions made into the 2021 budget, Otu-Ita stressed that having a participatory budgetary process is in line with global best practice.

"Today's event is basically to seek stakeholders input into the 2022 Budget as part of efforts to ensure inclusiveness and evenly spread dividends of democracy.

"Let me seize this opportunity to thank the citizens for your contributions and ideas during the 2021 Citizens Budget. You all played significant role in the final outcome of the 2021 Budget document which we are currently implementing.

Cross section of participants during the event 

"In line with Extant Circulars and Provisions, the 2022 Budgeting cycle has commenced. Therefore, the essence of our gathering here today is to once again bring our various inputs and ideas to ensure that we come out with an implementable and realistic 2022 Budget. A Budget that will continue to meet the developmental needs and aspiration of our people.

"Permit me to inform you that under the leadership of Sen. (Prof.) Ben Ayade, the Governor of Cross River State, every technique that aids the proper management of Public Finance is vital, bearing in mind where we are coming from and where we are heading. We may not have the financial capacity to compete, but we are highly determined and committed to provide our people with the best services through the judicious application of available resources. I, therefore, urge you to make meaningful contributions.", he said.

Delivering a keynote address, the Commissioner for Finance, Mr Asuquo Ekpenyong Jnr, observed that the importance of an inclusive budgetary process cannot be overemphasized as it lays the foundation for a robust and quality budget.

He argued that in order to produce a quality budget, "it is appropriate to gather inputs from relevant stakeholders within the State, such as Organised Private Sector (OPS), Civil Societies, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO), Representatives of Women Groups, and Artisans etc."

These inputs and opinions, according to the Commissioner, "would form basis upon which the State Government develops it budgets for the coming year. They represent interest and needs of the people across different sphere of the society. As a responsible government we are always delighted to listen and take advice from citizens.

"As for the 2022 budget, I am of the opinion that the state government will continue to consolidate on the gains of the previous achievements thereby building on the agro-industrialisation drive in the State.

"In the past few years we have all witnessed the agro-industrialisation drive of the State Government, whereby conscious efforts were made to develop agro revolution in Cross River State. The State Government has invested heavily on several agro-industries in the past 6 years, taking the comparative advantage of Cross River State as one of the most suitable place for agricultural cultivation in Nigeria.

"In addition, the State Government also made conscious effort to reduce social tension and youth restiveness, especially after the October 2020 EndSARS protest. The 2021 budget was designed to tackle some of the issues and the 2022 budget will surely address them further."

Ekpenyong, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Mr Gabriel Ikang, assured the forum that infrastructural development will continue to take the center stage of government focus in 2022, adding that "the State Government will leverage on the statutory income from Federal Account, while the State continues to work hard to boost the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR). The dwindling in global oil price can only mean one thing, reduction in allocation from the federation account. The State Government must continue its re-engineering of the Internally Generated Revenue in order to generate adequate resources to fund its budget.

"The State Government also expects to receive income from some of its sponsored projects in the coming year. Most of the State sponsored projects are at a stage where they can start generating income or they can be divested to recoup the State funds.

"Furthermore, the State is also expecting to receive inflows from States' Fiscal Transparency Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) grant and other aids. In the FY 2020 and 2021 the State Government benefited from the World Bank/Federal Government sponsored program States' Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) program for results. This trend is expected to continue in the year 2022. There are other programs in the pipeline that will bring substantial inflow to the State, example is the N-CARES.

"The State Government is also in the process of refinancing its debts, thereby securing a lower interest rate and a longer tenure. What this means to the purse of the State is that the amount the State Government uses monthly to service debts will reduce, thereby providing resources to fund the budget.

"In conclusion I wish to encourage every participant to see this budget forum as an opportunity to contribute meaningfully to the development of our dear State."

There were also presentations by the State Planning Commission, Internal Revenue Service, Budget Transparency and Accountability Network (BTAN), Ministries of Health, Education and Agriculture.