REMARKS BY RT. HON. DR. ALI AHMAD, SPEAKER KWHA, ON THE OCCASION OF PASSAGE OF 2017 APPROPIATION BILL OF THE GOVERNMENT OF KWARA STATE AT PLENARY OF 7TH MARCH 2017

Date: 2017-03-09

Hon. Colleagues, you will recall that the proposed appropriation bill 2017, was laid by His Excellency, Alh. (Dr.) Abdulfatah Ahmed, before this Hon House on 29th of December 2016 and since then, Hon. members have worked assiduously to pass a working budget for the State.

I recollect also that members of the KWHA exhibited similar commitment last year when you worked so hard to pass the budget timely, despite its late presentation to the House. I therefore commend you all, including members of staff of the Assembly, for your exemplary dedication to duty and urge you not to relent.

Today is another important day in the history of this state as this Honourable House passes into law the 2017 Budget whose total size is N160,900,388,017 as against the N135,264,529,461 which is an increase of N25,635,858,556 or 18.95%. This is made up of Recurrent Expenditure of N70, 758, 967, 750 which is 44% of the Budget and a total Capital Expenditure of N90, 141, 420, 267 which is 56% of the Budget size.

Well executed, a N90 Billion or 56% Capital Expenditure outlay of projects and programs, evenly spread across the three Senatorial districts of this State, will certainly have great impact on the lives of the citizens. Not many states in the Federation are committing such huge percentage of their resources for capital expenditure. We congratulate Kwarans for electing and supporting the Government of Abdulfatah Ahmed. The expected capital projects include much needed road networks, developing satellite campuses of Abubakar Sola Saraki University, commissioning of International Vocational Centre, Ajase-Ipo, up-scaling and subsidizing the community health insurance scheme, energizing of transformers and purchase of new ones, construction and renovation of classrooms, construction of staff secretariat, assisting those interested in commercialization of agriculture, the Geri-Alimi underpass and several others.

The Recurrent Revenue, estimated to be available to the State this year is N94,958,620,208 while capital receipt is estimated to be N65,941,767,809 giving us a Sum of N160,900,388,017 as total estimated income for the year.

Honourable colleagues, what you have just done is increase the total budget size by adding N25.6 Billion Naira or 18.9 % over and above the figure submitted by the Executive. To those who are not legislatively literate, they may pejoratively refer to this constitutional exercise as padding. But not majority of Kwarans have been well briefed and enlightened, thanks to the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Kwara State Chapter, which played host to the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Sulaimon Lasun Yusuf, to share his experience on this matter.

What is padding, when this House increased the budget of Agriculture sector from N561.141 million (or 0.4% of the budget) to N6.818 Billion or 4.24% of the total budget, which is relatively closer to the 10% recommended by the Food and Agricultural Organization Maputo Declaration 2004 for Sub-Saharan African Countries (compared to N89.684 Million in 2016).

There was no padding, we were just doing our duty, when we increased the budget of the education sector, including bursaries and scholarships for students of Kwara State origin, from N29.936 Billion to N32.752 Billion or 20.36% of the budget, which makes it closer to the 24% recommended by UNICEF for developing countries. The health sector came in well from the Executive and we only jacked it up a little to stand at N26.402 Billion or 16.4% of the Budget, surpassing the African Union Abuja Declaration 2001 recommendation of 15%.

Padding was never in our mind when we reduced the budget of the Kwara State House of Assembly by N146.746 Million. The only area this House was helpless because of limitation of funds was the water supply sector where the provision of N2.726 Billion or 1.69 % (from N1.724 or 1.3%) of the Budget is far less than the United Nations recommendation of 10%.

For the avoidance of doubt, the House was guided by the provisions of the country's constitution and best practices in good governance across other jurisdictions.

Implementing organs of international organizations have recommended some minimum percentages of public resources that should be committed to various sectors of the economy for such nations to transit from developing to developed economies.

The aim and objective of any development plan like this Budget is to achieve such an improved welfare condition and raise the standard of living for its citizens. That is the "shared Prosperity" with which this State has been identified. Honorable colleagues, I need not remind you that the Constitution has entrusted on us not only the powers of appropriation but also that of oversight.

We must commend the Executive for its foresight in establishing and empowering the Kwara State Internal Revenue Service but the high performance of the 2016 budget could not have happened without your oversight function. We should continue on the same path in 2017: i.e. further support internally generated effort of KWIRS and take our oversight more seriously.

An example of the effect of sustained oversight will suffice. Despite the excruciating economic recession in 2016, that year's budget of N111.960 Billion with actual performance of N85.979 Billion, recorded achieved performance of 68%. Salaries and pensions of State workers were paid, more health and judiciary staff were employed and that translated into recurrent expenditure of 87.4 %. That is most commendable where some other States are unable to pay salaries of their workers. The Governor even came to the assistance of local governments and we urge him to do more in this regard. Also the capital expenditure of 47% in a year of recession is also not blameworthy.

When at the beginning of that year we charged the Executive to attain a minimum of 70% performance, little did we know that the economy would contract this bad. Remember in 2015, with less oversight of a budget size of N117.678 Billion, the actual performance was N63.480 Billion or 54% total achievement in a non-recession year! In 2014, it was even lower. From this perspective, the 2016 performance level of 68% is thus remarkable. We must do better in 2017. 70% budget performance shall remain our expectation for the 2017 budget year.

Honourable colleagues I wish to repeat once again that an appropriation law is the most important law that any legislature would pass in the year.

Before now, Development drives are measured only by the allocation of capital receipts to capital programmes. However, the International Public Sector Accounting System (IPSAS) has now re-directed the thinking of Planners and Administrators to the fact that without the provision for recurrent spending, the capital resources allocation alone would neither achieve nor sustain the project.

Therefore, both the recurrent and capital allocation to a sector should determine the percentage of the resources that stand committed to it. Honourable colleagues, as the Kwarans look up to you in many for the realization of many of their aspirations, I have no doubt like ever before that you all are competent and capable to perform your constitutional responsibilities and I assure you of my support.

My Office will also collaborate your efforts by establishing a strategy of keeping track of Budget implementation across the MDAs with the aim of creating a means for notes comparison with the Various Committees. I thank you all for your continued support, cooperation and dedication to duty and may Allah bless you all.

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