As occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic, Ogun State Government says it has earmarked 20 percent of its revised 2020 budget to the health sector, while significant amounts have been committed to Infrastructure, Agriculture, as well as provision of affordable housing to the people of the state.
The State Governor, Prince (Dr.) Dapo Abiodun made this known at the Virtual Town Hall Meeting to elicit opinions and suggestions of the people of the state towards ensuring an inclusive revised 2020 budget.
Abiodun stated that the outbreak of the covid-19 pandemic has made the usual physical town hall meeting impossible, adding that because his administration remained committed to openness, accountability and inclusiveness, it became necessary to get back to the people and subject the new document to participation across social strata of the State.
According to him, the Covid-19 pandemic has affected the economy and by implication the revenue, which necessitated the revision of our budget to meet the current realities.
‘‘You will recall that December 3, 2019 we had presented the 2020 budget to the State House of Assembly but arising from the unforeseen pandemic which has resulted in consequential damages to both the economy and the social life of the state, the budget had to be revised to meet with current realities’’, he said.
The Governor said ‘’unfortunately, it is a known fact that expenses remained the same, salaries and emoluments of personnel, as well as running costs is same yet the revenue of the country which is majorly oil-based is on the decline, just as the expenses of the state are more associated with the unprepared challenges in the health sector which has been staggering’’.
Abiodun informed that the State was the first in the nation to procure a molecular laboratory and has been very responsive in curtailing the spread of the virus, adding that it has been ranked among 10 states with molecular laboratories, with about six thousand covid-19 tests conducted.
He said his administration would continue to focus on the control and management of the virus, which explained why 20 percent of the revised budget was earmarked to the health sector, saying government was putting in place enduring facilities that would serve the need of the people beyond Covid-19 outbreak.
The Governor assured that more attention would be given to infrastructural and housing development, as the sectors will serve as veritable tools for employment generation for the youths, while his government intends to engage artisans and local technicians in the two sectors towards boosting food sufficiency through the agricultural value chain.
Gov. Abiodun hinted that a Committee to manage revenue generation by interfacing with investors and industrialists in the State had been set up, revealing that government was not unware of the fact that the Covid-19 pandemic would have impaired on the ability of factories in the State to perform optimally, as such, ‘’our expectations of them paying taxes will be reduced’’.
Earlier, while welcoming participants to the meeting, the State Commissioner for Budget & Planning, Mr. Olaoluwa Olabimtan said the meeting had become imperative to ensure that government feels the pulse of the people and ensure a citizens’ revised budget, owing to the prevailing economic circumstances caused by Covid-19, assuring that their meaningful contributions, suggestions and opinions would be adequately adopted.
Participants at the meeting, included representative of the Nigeria Association of Small Scale Industries, Mrs. Doyin Bello, Chairman, Nigeria Labour Congress (Ogun State Chapter), Comrade Emmanuel Bankole and President, National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) Ogun Chapter, Comrade Tomiwa Bamgbose, among others.
They advocated the need for government’s interventions in the areas of tax harmonisation, blockage of revenue leakages, improved infrastructure and enhancement of socio-economic life of the citizenry, especially during and after the pandemic.
Odunayo Ogunleye & Kofoworola Idowu,
Press Officers, Min. of Budget & Planning