–Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State on Wednesday presented a budget proposal of Three Hundred and Eighty Nine Billion, One Hundred and Ninety Million, Seven Hundred and Ninety Nine Thousand, Three Hundred and Sixty Two Naira to the State House of Assembly.

The proposal is made up of N171.5bn for recurrent expenditure and N217.6bn for capital expenditure.

Addressing the legislators, the Governor said he was making the presentation from a position of cautious optimism given the many policy issues facing the nation’s oil sector, which would impact significantly on politics and governance at all levels.

He said the global oil price of about #57 per barrel was lower than the federal budget benchmark of $60, adding that with the fluctuating oil production levels which had dropped to as low as 1.7 million barrels per day, there was serious cause doe concern.

Okowa said with the commencement of deduction at source of the Bail Out Funds to state by the federal government, the state was faced with prospects of continual fiscal adjustments that would be challenging and problematic.

The Governor said although available indices were suggestive of a positive national economic outlook in 2020, the cost of governance at all levels was expected to rise sharply with the implementation of the new minimum wage.

He pointed out that the new VAT regime of 7.5% designed to shore up the national revenue would hardly make any difference in the fiscal revenue of the state as the anticipated increase would largely be offset by the attendant rise in the cost of goods and services and the new minimum wage.

Okowa added that pension liability of the state had continued to exert a huge toll on available resources, while private investment was still hampered by high interest rates, macro economic instability and security concerns.

The Governor said given the above scenario, the 2020 budget proposal was critical and required deep introspection and public understanding.

He said the budget, christened *Budget of Sustained Development”, would aim to achieve fiscal stability and promote accountability, prioritise efficiency in expenditure through stringent control.of non productive expenditure, judicious allocation of resources and cost effectiveness of project delivery.

Okowa stated that the budget would also seek to accelerate rural urban integration and urban renewal through roads and flood control infrastructure, market development, housing and sanitation, as well as grow a diversified, self reliant, and resilient non oil sector that could withstand external shocks, among other strategies.

Lola Seriki-Idahosa/News

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