Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, on Tuesday said the spending choices of the state government demonstrate its commitment to building human capital and infrastructure and promoting social welfare.
Mr El-Rufai also said the state seeks to retain its economic competitiveness and enhance its capacity to support the vulnerable by enacting a Social Protection Bill to build on its recently adopted Social Protection Policy
The governor was speaking while presenting the state’s 2021 draft budget to the Kaduna State House of Assembly.
He disclosed that 66 percent of the N257bn budget is devoted to capital expenditure to support its commitments to Education, Health, Infrastructure and Agriculture.
He stated that while the state seeks to expand its capacity to collect more internally generated revenues, it will not hike taxes or levies. Therefore, it will not propose a Finance Bill in 2021, given the need to support businesses and individuals to cope with the economic consequences of Covid-19.
Mr El-Rufai said since 2015, the government has pumped record levels of capital investment into the state.
“In 2019, Kaduna State achieved 97.5% budget performance for capital expenditure, spending N148.57bn of the N152.33bn budgeted. This is more than twice the erstwhile record of capital spending of over N62bn in 2016,” he said.
Giving details of the budget, he said 63 percent of the total proposed budget is devoted to Education, Health and Infrastructure.
However, the proportion of the capital budget allocated to the Economic and Social Sectors is higher.
“A sum of N124bn, almost 79% of the capital budget of N157.56bn is allocated to the Economic and Social sectors. This preserves the ability to maintain investment levels in Education and Health, while continuing projects in the urban renewal programmes,” he said.
He explained that the state budget reflects the government’s commitment to promote equality of opportunity, accelerate human capital development, attain fiscal viability, and reduce inequality.
He noted that the budget proposals have taken into account the economic uncertainty unleashed by Covid-19, assuring that fiscal realism is an underlying principle of the draft budget.
Mr El-Rufai said “despite the subsisting dangers from the Covid-19 pandemic, life must continue, and we must strive to manage the situation as best we can and make progress wherever possible.”
The governor expressed his gratitude to the Kaduna State House of Assembly for the partnership that has enabled the government to anchor many of its reform measures in new laws.
“The close to 100 new laws enacted since 2015 include legislation to institutionalise reforms in public finances, procurement, taxation, child welfare and protection, investment promotion, scholarships, youth capacity building and residency, among others. The new laws also created a geographic information service and an internal revenue service,” he said.
He informed the House of Assembly about the legislative proposals that will be coming from the Executive Branch for the rest of 2020 and 2021.
He said there would be no new Finance Bill since the government has no intention to raise taxes and levies. But the new bill will include a Social Protection Bill to build on the recent approval of a State Social Protection Policy by the Kaduna State Executive Council.
“This places us in a better position to propose a Social Protection Bill to domesticate the various social intervention programmes of the Federal Government and propose a statewide social safety net that will address the basic needs of our poorest and most vulnerable citizens.”
The government will also propose Chieftaincy and Traditional Councils Bill to entrench the reforms of the chieftaincy system, specify composition and classification of emirate and traditional councils, and update the provisions of colonial laws on the subject. Other pending laws include an Employment Promotion Bill, a State Education Bill, a Commercial Code and a Family Court.
Giving further details of the budget outlook, the governor also reeled out the achievements of his administration in the last five years in Kaduna state.
He reminded the legislators that Kaduna is the first state to pay the new minimum wage to being among the top in implementing the contributory pension scheme, he said that the state will continue to abide by its Putting People First agenda.
He also cited the completion of Phases1 and 2 of the Zaria Water Project, the agreement with the Federal Government on the Greater Kaduna Water Supply Project and the ongoing unprecedented urban renewal projects in Kaduna, Kafanchan and Zaria.
“In 2019, Kaduna State entered the ranks of the top six states for internally generated revenue in Nigeria, collecting N44bn in taxes and levies without hiking tax rates,’’ he said. He disclosed that Kaduna came first out of 24 states assessed in the State Fiscal Transparency and Accountability (SFTAS) Programme
According to him, the World Bank ranked Kaduna State as the number one place for ease of doing business in Nigeria from the 21st position out of 36 states and FCT in 2014.
“Kaduna State is number one for foreign direct investment, with $800m already invested and $2.1bn in pledged investments,” Mr El-Rufai further said.
The governor pointed out that his government has convened five successful editions of the Kaduna Economic and Invest Summit (KADInvest) which showcased the state as a favourite destination of job-creating foreign and domestic investments.
“Through the $150m Olam poultry project, which was commissioned in 2017, we have made Kaduna the poultry hub of northern Nigeria,’’ he added.
Mr El-Rufai also recalled that his administration has “broken ground for the N20bn Damau Milk Farm project, a collaboration between our state and European dairy giant Arla.”
“This is designed to help transform and modernise livestock production in Kaduna state into a commercially viable animal husbandry business,’’ he said.
The governor also said his government launched the Urban Renewal Programme to improve infrastructure, transport connections and the liveability of our cities.
According to him, it is an intervention intended for the three main cities of Kaduna, Kafanchan and Zaria, starting from the state capital, where new roads, expanded arterial roads, shopping malls and neighbourhood centres are included.
Support PREMIUM TIMES' journalism of integrity and credibility
Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.
For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.
By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
TEXT AD: To advertise here . Call Willie +2347088095401...