As different stakeholders within and outside Katsina State eagerly await the outcome of the second annual budget crafted by Governor Aminu Bello Masari, our correspondent, ANDY ASEMOTA, captures the critical highlights of the financial estimates tagged: “Budget of Stabilization.
The budget of a state is a plan that details projections on its revenue and expenditures on a short or long term basis. Therefore, the decision of Governor Masari to earmark no less than 32 per cent of his administration’s resources this financial year for recurrent services is, in a democratic government, something that must be commended.
The governor, going by the budget he signed into law last week, wants to commit two third, about 68 per cent, of whatever the state is going to have as revenue in 2017 in the execution of capital projects.
An overview of the budget shows that apart from an expected closing balance of N24, 370, 871, 835 and five billion naira bank facility for roads, capital receipt will give the state N15, 353, 359, 400 while recurrent revenue is estimated at N95, 441, 861, 455 to offer grand total revenue of N140, 166, 092, 690.
The ability of the governor and his team to defend and get the approval of the State House of Assembly for the same amount proposed by executive arms of the state administration speaks volume about the object of the budget.
The question that arises from this is whether the legislators merely rubber stamped Masari’s appropriation bill. If no, ho did their role become consequential within the context of the budget? This space will not permit going into details of the adjustments made in the 2017 budget by the law makers but the Special Adviser to the Governor on Budget and Economic Planning, Abdullahi Imam, said the fundamental change from what the executive proposed is the transfer of about N3.5 billion from recurrent to capital expenditure.
This, he explained, led to the rise in the capital expenditure from N92 billion to N96 billion. The legislature also adjusted the sectoral allocations of the appropriation bill presented to them by the governor.
A cursory look at the sectoral allocations shows almost all sectors had an imprint of the assembly. Governor Masari proposed N25.67 billion in the economic sector but the legislature approved N29.2 billion while the N23.99 billion he in the social sector was reduced to N21.66 billion.
Similarly, in the regional sector, Masari proposed N32.4 billion for his services but the legislators jerked it up to N32.4 billion. There was a mild change from N274 million to N302 million in legislature sector but there were no change in the estimates for contingency and debt servicing.
It is important to note that the budget will provide ample room for capital development as education, health, water resources, agriculture, works and transport will continue to receive the government’s priority attention in the allocation of funds in line with Restoration Agenda of the Masari administration.
There is no doubt that critical areas where Katsina is facing serious challenges, where the government needs to urgently look at as it had started last year and will want to sustain its effort this fiscal year had been captured in the current budget.
With necessary interventions and consistent focus on the critical areas, the government will remain in the right direct, particularly in the area of agriculture which provides employment opportunities for Katsina’s teeming population.
The Masari administration, one can observe, knows that government can only provide employment for a few. So, one gets the impression that the government, as demonstrated in the approved budget, that it is poised to create an enabling environment and let the people be focused on those areas. For instance, the government made a provision of two billion naira this fiscal year to purchase farm power tillers. The equipment will help farmers to improve their agricultural activities.
The approved budget also has a provision of N1.1 billion for rehabilitation of earth dams which will enhance irrigation activities. In addition, there is a provision of N700 million for Fadama 111 programme in the state this year.
Yes, Katsina State will always give priority to procurement of fertilizer to farmers as an agrarian state. To this end, Masari made a provision of N3.6 billion to fast track the self sufficiency goal of his administration and in tune with the time tested truth that a state moves forward by consolidating the achievements of its successive governments.
Masari has no doubt recorded breathe taking success in rehabilitation and remodeling of the premier hospitals in Katsina, Daura and Funtua but he still has outstanding rehabilitation works in the hospitals. For this, he made a provision of N1.1 billion.
Recently, his administration has been taking concrete steps to establish a teaching hospital as part of the effort to have a faculty of medicine in Umaru Musa Yar’adua University. This fiscal year, the government made a provision of N1.3 billion under the ministry of health for the take off of the teaching hospital.
In order to complete inherited and on-going road projects as well as award contracts for new ones, Special Adviser to State Government on Budget, Abdullahi Imam, said the governor made a provision of N15.3 billion for Katsina roads.
“Cost of road projects has recorded about 20 to 35 per cent increase, that is why we got additional facility of N5 billion from UBA and N10.3 billion from our recurrent revenue for our roads,” said Imam.
KASROMA, the agency in charge of rehabilitation of roads in the state and an arm of works and transport ministry, has N1.5 billion set aside for it to maintain the bad roads across the state.
Even though the administration spent almost three billion in 2016 financial year on schools’ rehabilitation and renovation, more schools still need the government’s interventions. The state made provision of N1.8 billion to renovate and equip 316 secondary schools.
As Masari noted, while giving his assent to the budget, his administration is paying more attention to primary education. this accounts for a provision of N2.7 billion for rehabilitation and equipping of Katsina primary schools under the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) despite about N7 billion spent by the present administration last year.
Of a truth, Masari has also made significant mark in water supply sector in the past 21 months. However, some of the highlights of the government’s commitment to water supply this year include construction of Danja dam (N3bn), expansion of Malumfashi and Kankara dams (N1.5bn), Zobe dam (N5bn) and provision of water boreholes (N1.3bn).
The Special Adviser to the Governor on Banking and Finance, Faruk Jobe, one of the brains behind the budget, poured encomiums on its guiding principles. He said “in the process of crafting the budget, we tried to be very realistic and conservative in our estimates. So, we are hopeful that the target of this budget will be met.”
As a team player, Faruk Jobe interfaces with different stakeholders on the revenue generation mechanism the government is putting in place. In his brief remarks, the governor’s aide assured that the government’s expectations in terms of revenue accruing to the state internally and from the centre will be effectively utilized to achieve the government’s noble objective.
Commenting on the major components of the 2017 budget where the bulk of the revenue is going, he was unequivocal that the new order will be of interest to Katsina people.