Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.
I thank God for the opportunity, once again, to present this budget address as the Governor of our State. I am most grateful to the people of Rivers State for the honour and privilege of piloting the affairs of the State for the last three and half years.
Mr. Speaker, this is the last budget statement of our administration before the end of our first term in office. Permit me therefore to take a few moments to reflect on our performance.
Never for a moment did we betray this trust; neither did we take the interest of our people for granted. We've remained faithful, truthful and just to their aspirations and even those who never gave us a chance when we started now admit that we've done well and believe strongly that things can only get better for our State under our watch.
When we came in three and half years ago, we met a State that was literarily on its knees: physically battered, economically raped and psychologically traumatized.
But we came in with a clear vision and mission: a vision to repair and renew the promise of our State; a mission to pull our people from the cesspool of despair and restore our hopes for brighter future.
Three and half years after, we have substantially achieved our commitments on all directions of human advancement.
Under our watch, Rivers State has emerged from the brink of economic disaster to an era of fiscal sustainability.
Today, our Gross Domestic product has increased and our economy is growing at a rate above the national average and attracting new investments even when the national economy continues to be weak, wobbly and troubling.
Under our guardianship, we have invested at record levels to provide critical social and economic infrastructure across the State; especially roads, schools, and health facilities.
In the process, we created hundreds of thousands of jobs across the construction value chain.
We supported small businesses with interest free loans, tax moratoriums and other tangible investment incentives. Today, Rivers State has become economically competitive and businesses, including new start-ups, are responding positively to the improved investment conditions in the State.
We prioritized the construction and expansion of road infrastructure and today, we have successfully delivered over 1600 kilometers of roads across the State.
Three and half years ago, we could hardly find any tarred street without deep cracks and potholes across the State. Today, that has become a thing of the past.
There is no Local Government Area we have not reached; no State or Federal Constituency we have not touched; and no Senatorial District we have not positively affected with our development policies, programmes and projects.
In the areas of urban renewal and rural development, we have constructed and reconstructed several roads in Port Harcourt city, Obio/Akpor Local Government Area, Omoku, Elele, Isiokpo, Okochiri, Ogbunabali, and Amadi Ama communities.
The numerous roads and other social amenities, including water, electricity, jetties, land reclamation we have provided are boosting socio-economic activities and improving the wellbeing of our people in several of our rustic and hitherto neglected communities across the State.
It is a thing of joy and profound sense of fulfillment that for the first time in history the people of Opobo can now access other parts of the State on a tarred road as a result of our efforts to fulfill our promise.
As critical components of human capital development education and healthcare delivery also received appreciable attention in the last three and half years of our administration.
We have comprehensively rehabilitated, furnished and equipped over 180 basic education schools through the State's Universal Basic Education Board.
Also, several secondary schools have been rebuilt and expanded while a lot more are presently undergoing total reconstruction and rehabilitation.
In 2018 we trained over 1000 teachers on 21st century education skills to improve the quality of teaching and delivery of lesson notes in our basic education schools. More teachers will be trained in the course of 2019.
Furthermore, we have expanded access and improved quality in all our tertiary institutions. New faculties buildings, have been built and equipped for the Rivers State University; the Ignatius Ajuru University of Education and also in the two State-owned Polytechnics.
We also provided grants to all the tertiary institutions to upgrade their facilities, upwardly adjusted the salary structure of both teaching and non-teaching staff of our universities and ensured the regular payment of staff salaries.
Furthermore, the School of Midwifery has been comprehensively rehabilitated while the College of Nursing and that of Health Technology have been listed for reconstruction in the next fiscal year.
With respect to healthcare, we are gradually getting closer to actualizing our commitment to providing an affordable, effective and efficient healthcare delivery system for our people.
To this end, the 13 general hospitals and the mother and child hospital we have comprehensively rehabilitated and or constructed will soon be equipped and put to effective use.
We are transforming and equipping the Braithwaite Memorial Hospital with the most advanced diagnostic and other equipment for the treatment of hearth, liver and kidney diseases.
We are also going on with the construction of the regional referral hospitals we inherited from the previous administration to bring access to tertiary healthcare closer to our people.
Finally, we also fought and reduced the monstrous heights of insecurity and our State is today reckoned as one of the most peaceful, safe and secure States in the country.
Mr. Speaker, these are just highlights of some of the development strides we recorded in the last three and half years of our administration to lay, strengthen and consolidate the foundations for the future of our State.
Collectively, we are all focused and committed to building a State where no one or section is left out from the benefits of progress; a society where everyone has a fair chance to pursue set goals and realize their potential; a society where everyone is educated, economically empowered and physically secured enough to live a peaceful, fulfilling, healthy, and meaningful life.
But as you know, social transformation is like a journey; it takes time to fully manifest and benefit the entire populace.
Yes, we have made significant progress in the last three and half years of our administration. But there is still a lot to be done to get to where we want our State to be.
2018 BUDGET PERFORMANCE REVIEW
Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, and distinguished guests. In the 2018 fiscal year, the projected revenue for the State was 510,000,000,000.00 (Five Hundred and Ten Billion Naira) only.
Out of this sum 152,000,000,000.00 (One hundred and fifty-two billion was projected from internal generated revenue, (IGR) while statutory allocation (FAAC) was estimated at N210, 000,000.000.00 (Two Hundred and Ten Billion naira) only. Therefore aggregate projected revenue from IGR and FAAC was N362, 000,000,000.00 only.
We also projected to source the sum of N148, 000,000,000.00 from other sources, including internal and external loans.
As at November 2018 total revenue receipts from all sources (except internal and external loans) stood at 288,721,423,336. This represents about 79 per cent performance on the revenue side with respect to the totally projected IGR and FAAC receipts for 2018.
It is worthy of note that while internally generated revenue for 2018 improved marginally over that of 2017, what was realized was about 32 per cent less than the total amount projected for the fiscal year 2018.
This means that we still have serious challenges in meeting our IGR targets, a situation we must collectively find ways to overcome if we must deliver on our development targets to the people.
On our part, we shall continue with our efforts to stimulate economic growth, diversify the economy and attract more investments to shore up the State's revenue base.
It is also worthy of note that the 2018 budget was financed principally from proceeds from IGR, FAAC, Paris Club Refund and dividends from the State's stock portfolio. We literally refused to borrow in order to encourage us to live within our means as well as achieve appreciable levels of fiscal sustainability.
On the expenditure side, we prudently managed and applied the available resources to deliver on the mandates of the 2018 budget.
For instance, in spite of the shortfall in aggregate revenue, we substantially funded our recurrent expenditure, including the regular payment of salaries, pensions and the release of overheads to ministries, departments and extra-ministerial agencies (MDAs).
Also, aggregate capital releases to MDAs as at November stood at over 65 per cent of the total capital expenditure. As you may have noticed, we completed and delivered over 30 capital projects in 2018 during the 3rd anniversary of our administration, including:
* Slaughter – Trans Amadi – Garrison road;
* Abuloma – Woji – Elelenwo – Akpajo
* Obiri ikwerre – Airport road;
* Elele Alimini internal roads;
* Omoku internal roads;
* Cardinal Jim Rex-Lawson Cultural Centre;
* Amadi Ama internal roads;
* Dr. Peter Odili Doctors' Quarters (BMSH);
* Chief Emmanuel Aguma House;
* Dame Patience Jonathan road (former creek road);
* Bishop Johnson Street;
* Captain Amangala Street;
* Tourist Beach road;
* Birabi Memorial Grammar School, Bori;
* General Sanni Abacha Road;
* Mbuoshimi Community Health Centre;
* Mgboshimini Community Primary School;
* P.G. Warmate House (Former Waterlines Building);
* Ozuaha – Ipo – Omademe road;
* Traditional Council Secretariat;
* National Industrial Court Building;
* Court of Appeal Building;
* Okochiri Internal roads;
* Isiokpo internal roads (phase 1);
* 24 nos 3 Bedroom flats for civil servants;
* Government Girls Secondary School, Rumuokuta;
* Nyemoni Grammar School, Abonnema;
* Government Secondary School, Onne;
* Faculty of Sciences and Technical Education building, Rivers State University;
* Faculty of Management Sciences building, Rivers State University;
* Faculty of Medical Sciences Building, Rivers State University;
* SUBEB Head Office complex, Port Harcourt; and
* Ogbunabali internal roads
From all assessments the policy objectives of the 2018 budget circle on expenditure targeting, spending prioritization and effective implementation were substantially achieved.
ECONOMIC AND FISCAL OUTLOOK FOR 2019
Mr. Speaker, few days ago, Mr. President told a nation in distraught that the national economy is in real bad shape.
Mr. President's frank but hopeless assessment of the national economy was predicated on the continuous decline in national revenue, which has created uncertainty in the country's fiscal conditions.
Ordinarily, we should all be worried over the gloomy picture of the national economy because the health of our economy is tied substantially to the strength of the national economy.
However, we have taken adequate measures to guarantee the medium and long-term sustainability of our economy and reduce the State's exposure to the shocks and volatilities of the national economy, except if it goes on a free fall.
Against this background, I wish to assure us that no matter what happens to the economy at the national level, the growth outlook for our State's economy remains positive in the short to medium term.
We shall continue to reset our economy by maintaining expansionary fiscal approach, prioritizing investments in critical socio-economic infrastructure and taking appropriate measures to boost revenue generation to meet our development objectives, priorities and targets.
THE 2019 BUDGET ESTIMATES
Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members; the projected revenue for Rivers State for the 2019 Fiscal Year is N480, 000,000,000.00 (Four Hundred and Eighty Billion Naira) only.
The budget is based on the following assumptions:
(i) an oil price bench mark of 55 United States Dollars per barrel, which is 5 dollars lower than that of the Federal Government; and
(ii) an oil production rate 2,000,000 barrels per day, as against the Federal Government's 2,300,000.000 barrels per day; and
(iii) an inflation rate of 10.9 per cent as against the Federal Government's 9.9 per cent.
The strategic thrust for the 2019 budget is to promote economic growth and diversification, create jobs and reduce unemployment; take as many of our people out of poverty and improve the standard of living of Rivers State.
To this end, we shall be doing the following specific things:
(i) prioritize investments in agriculture and encourage, train and support our youths to go into commercial farming;
(ii) support small and medium businesses to invest in the State and create jobs;
(iii) continue to prioritize and invest in human capital development and guarantee robust access to basic social services such as, education, healthcare, social housing, water and sanitation;
(iv) continue to keep Rivers State peaceful, safe and secure;
(v) continue to prioritized investments in the provision and expansion of transport infrastructure, including roads, bridges and jetties.
Against this background, the 2019 Budget is aptly christened: “Budget of Sustainable Growth and Development.”
FINANCING THE 2019 BUDGET
Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, funding for the 2019 budget will be from the following sources:
Internally Generated Revenue N120, 492,891,302.00
Statutory Allocation N73, 169,813,022.00
3.13% oil minerals fund N145, 070,991,780.00
Value Added Tax N26, 377,628,543.00
Refunds N27, 337,926,155.08
Local Credits N45, 000,000,000.00
International Credits N30, 000,000,000.00
Capital receipts N300, 000,000.00
Exchange gain N8, 000,000,000.00
Prior year Balance N4, 662,073,844.92
TOTAL N480, 411,324,647,00
At about 28.39 per cent of total revenue, Oil Mineral funds is the largest contributor to the budget and what is proposed in the 2019 budget represents a significant increase from that of 2018 as we expect the Federal Government to implement the recent judgment on the upward review of our entitlements under the relevant Production Sharing Agreements.
The IGR is the second highest contributor to the budget as the sum proposed represents about 25 per cent of the total budget.
We decided to be as realistic as possible with our IGR projections because over the years we have been unable to match our revenue potential with actuality.
Nevertheless, we are encouraged by the constant improvements we have recorded year in, year out to continue with our drive to generate more revenue from alternative internal sources to fund substantial parts of our budget.
While we may not introduce new taxes and levies in 2019, I have directed the State's Internal Revenue Service to plug all existing tax loopholes, crack down on tax defaulters and ensure full implementation of our revenue laws to shore up our IGR collections.
Furthermore, in addition to balancing the fairness of the tax system to enhance compliance, we will also continue with our efforts to increase the efficiency of revenue collection from both existing and other potential sources.
The third most viable contributor to our budget is statutory allocation. Here, our projection is over 28 billion more than that of 2018 based on the assumptions of the Federal Government. However, we are mindful of the fact that this is a revenue item we have no control whatsoever over what can accrue to the State.
Finally, we have substantially reduced our intention to fund the 2019 budget with borrowed funds in line with our policy of balancing our budget and reducing deficits to sustain the impetus towards fiscal responsibility.
Mr. Speaker, the proposed revenue for 2019 fiscal year will be spent as follows:
(1) Recurrent Expenditure - N157, 122,354,564.15
(2) Capital Expenditure - N323, 288,970,085.00
The Recurrent Expenditure will be spent as follows:
Personnel Emolument N79, 585,058,808.60
Overhead 17, 025,380,000.00
A substantial part of the recurrent budget proposed for 2019 is for the payment of staff salaries and overheads to ministries, departments and agencies to enable them effectively discharge their responsibilities to the people.
The personnel cost of N79, 585,058,808.60 alone constitutes about 50 per cent of the entire recurrent expenditure. The increase in the figure for 2019 is as a result of the need to provide for the anticipated increase in the minimum wage for civil servants.
With this, the State Government will be in a position to pay the minimum wage whenever the National Assembly approves it. We also made provisions for staff promotion arrears and new recruitments into the State's civil service.
The sum of 33,000,000,000.00 is proposed for the settlement of pension liabilities. The challenge about the plight of pensioners has lingered for too long and we are determined to tackle it this time around. Certainly, our senior citizens deserve better treatment than what they are presently getting.