Ameachi defies Rivers crisis, presents N485 billion budget for 2014

Rotimi Amaechi, Rivers State governor

The G6 lawmakers were absent at the event

The Rivers State Governor, Chibuike Amaechi, on Tuesday defied the raging crisis in the Rivers State House of Assembly and threats from political foes to present the state’s 2014 budget proposal of N485.524 billion to the Assembly at the old auditorium within the Government House, Port Harcourt.

However, the group of six lawmakers, led by Evans Bipi, was absent from the event, which was presided over by the Speaker, Otelemaba Amachree.

Mr. Bipi had been parading himself as the Speaker until last December when he was restrained by the state High Court, Ahoada, which was due to continue hearing on the matter on Monday before its premises was rocked by explosion.

The Rivers State House of Assembly had been in crisis since July last year prompting the National Assembly to pass a resolution the following month taking over its functions in accordance with Section 11 (4) of the 1999 Constitution.

A court, however, nullified the action of the National Assembly.

At Monday’s budget presentation, the Deputy Leader of the House moved a motion requesting the Speaker to designate the Old Auditorium located close to the Deputy Governor’s Office as the chamber of the House for the purpose of the presentation. The motion was seconded by the Deputy Whip.

The governor and his entourage, which comprised mostly commissioners and advisers, were admitted to the auditorium after the motion was unanimously passed.

Mr. Amaechi, who apparently relied on last month’s judgment of the Federal High Court, Abuja voiding of the resolution of the National Assembly to take over the functions of the state legislature, said the 2014 budget estimate was N4.79 billion (0.98%) lower than the 2013 budget, which was N490.32 billion.

A breakdown of the proposed budget, which the governor said would focus on the completion of ongoing projects in about eight key sectors, showed that a total of N247.573 billion was allocated for capital expenditure while N237.950 would be for recurrent expenditure.

Mr. Amaechi said the proposal was arrived at after due consultations with relevant stakeholders within and outside the public service.

“Rt. Honourable Speaker, with due consultations with relevant stakeholders within and outside the public service, we are proposing an aggregate Budget of N485.524 billion for the year 2014,” the governor said.

“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 N247.573 billion and N237.950 billion, respectively.

“Our Capital to Recurrent ratio is76:24 for the financial year 2014 as against 70:30 achieved as at September, in this outgoing year.”

He said the 2014 budget would be funded by FAAC allocation of N241.243 billion and Internally Generated Revenue, IGR, of N92.420 billion; prior year balance ofN10.717 billion; proposed loans ofN100 billion; credit from World Bank-N6.983 billion; European Union grant of N0.660 billion; and sale of asset of N33 billion.

The sectoral allocations show that the Ministry of Works got the highest with N60 billion budgeted for its activities; Education, N30 billion; Greater Port Harcourt City Authority 20 billion; Office of the Secretary to the Government N11 billion; Rivers State Sustainable Agency N10 billion; and Transport N10 billion; Others are Sports N8 billion; Water Resources N8 billion; Power N7 billion; Water Resources Management Agency N6.5 billion; Rivers State House of Assembly N6.1 billion.

The Rivers State Urban Beautification, Parks and Garden got the lowest with N80 million.

On the performance of the 2013 Budget, Mr. Amaechi said, “Combined actual total expenditure (recurrent plus capital) is (N314.871 billion) for the period ending September showing a performance rate of N64.22 per cent.”


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