The Governor of Cross River State, Professor Ben Ayade has presented a budget of N1, 100, 167, 507.09 trillion naira to the State Assembly.
Christened “budget of Olimpotic meristemasis”, Professor Ayade said N911 billion, which represents 82 percent, will be for Capital Expenditure, while N188 billion, 17.2 percent, would be spent on recurrent expenditure.
While explaining that meristemasis is the active cell that stimulates growth in a young plant, which in this case represents the state, he pointed out that, “the budget will catalyze into existence a great opportunity for us all to put our hands and legs on the pedal and fill it off.”
He said the decision to allocate 82.8 percent of the budget to capital expenditure, was indicative of our aggressive commitment that will continue to reduce recurrent expenditure and focus on capital expenditure.
Giving a sectoral breakdown of the appropriation bill, the governor said “more focus has been given to the health sector. For 2020, we have allocated N44 billion to further develop our infrastructure as we strive to provide our people with affordable health care services”.
“Another sector receiving greater allocation is education where N38 billion has been alloted to build on the gains we made in 2019. N22 billion has been earmarked for agriculture as we intend to drive agro-processing in line with the agro-allied industries we have in Cross River State,” he stated.
He further explained that N12 billion would be to expand the state’s social housing scheme as well as N35 billion on the new cities development project across the three senatorial district, noting “in a few days we will be inaugurating the first phase of our social housing project in Bakassi. In 2020, we will take the second phase to the central and northern senatorial districts”.
On taxation, the governor used the occasion to announce a tax reduction for low income earners, particularly artisans and commercial tricycle riders including taxi drivers.
He said, “no nation taxes its people to prosperity and so daily taxes will be abolished for low income earners including traders and civil servants, who earn below 100,000 naira monthly will be exempted from taxes”.
Ayade remarked that the commercial tricycle riders and taxi drivers will henceforth pay a monthly tax rate of One thousand and two thousand naira respectively, while government will continue to legalise hawking and create some hawking bases in the state to assist low income earners.
He added that a number of agro based industries under construction in the state will come on stream next year and the government hopes to realise about N380 billion from these investments.
In his response, Eteng Williams, the Speaker of the State Assembly promised to give the necessary support to the appropriation bill, pledging to fast track its passage into law within three weeks.