Coordinator, Social Action Anti-corruption Network in Akwa-Ibom State, Ann Udonte ,has called on lawmakers in the state to carry out proper oversight function of 2020 budget implementations to address concerns of poor budget performances in the state.

She said the situation where the legislature approves budgetary figures annually without a corresponding oversight leaves much to be desired, adding that such procedure reduces budgeting to mere ritual that does not benefit the people of the state.

Governor Udom Emmanuel, penultimate week presented 2020 budget totaling N597.800 billion to the State Legislature, comprising N369.642 billion for capital expenditure, N111.225 billion for recurrent expenditure and N116.933 billion for Consolidated Revenue Fund Charges, representing a decrease of N75.185billion from its 2019 budgetary provisions of N672.985 billion.

But the Non-Governmental Organization lamented that the budget on the pages of papers appears to have articulated the development aspirations of the state, but added that previous experiences does not create room for such optimism.

Udonte said, ”The 2020 budget, therefore, should seize some remarkable changes and departure from the typically abysmal budget performance of the past.

In view of this, the state lawmakers should therefore critically and closely scrutinize the proposed appropriation and channel resources in a balanced manner to critical areas that need attention particularly the education and the health sector.

“The state lawmakers should also pay adequate attention to appropriation for the infrastructural sector as this is important in addressing challenges with employment and youth development in the state

“It is equally important that the lawmakers rise effectively to the task of oversight in budget implementation. A situation whereby the lawmakers conform themselves to merely approving budgetary figures annually without corresponding interest and oversight on how such appropriations are implemented reduces it to a mere ritual that does not bring any meaningful interest to bear in the life of the average Akwa Ibom citizen.

“On paper, the proposed budget appears to have articulated the development aspirations of the young state, however, experiences with the budget of previous years do not create much room for such optimism”.

She said findings revealed that the 2019 budget, performed far below expectation particularly in the social and the infrastructural sector including the education sector, adding many schools where money were appropriated are still in very poor conditions.

She added, “According to the budget monitoring findings of the Niger Delta Citizens budget platform, the educational sector has at best performed only 43% as its findings show that many schools that were severely dilapidated are still in dying need of rehabilitation and did not receive any meaningful attention from the 2019 budget.

“A specific example includes the Nyong Essien Model Secondary School in Ishiet Ekim Uruan L.G.A and Asutan Ekpe Comprehensive Secondary School, Okop Ndua Erong Ibesiko Asutan L.G.A.

“These schools which serve as the sole educational institutions in their communities have been dilapidated and abandoned for years with school children studying in substandard conditions including, buildings without roofs, shabby classrooms, etc.

“This is despite the commitment or pledge by the state government to advance the education fortunes of the people of the state. A similar situation also abounds in the health sector as well as the critical infrastructure sector.”

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