PDP Reject Budget
Rivers Governor Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi has scaled another hurdle in the political crisis rocking the state following the speedy passage of this year’s budget by the State House of Assembly.
Amaechi presented a N485.524 billion 2014 Appropriation Bill to the Rivers State House of Assembly, which sat in a temporary chambers within the Government House complex three days after the bombing of Ahoada High Court , which worsened the crisis.
Led by the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Otelemabama Amachree , the lawmakers, 23 of its 32 members on seat, however, passed the budget into law after a few hours of deliberation on it. Sources told 247 Ureports that the lawmakers sat without the knowledge of lawmakers loyal to the coordinating minister for Education Nyesom Wike.
Before the sitting commenced Dan-Amaechree, said the Assembly decided to continue with its legislative duties in makeshift chambers, and called on the Deputy House Leader, Nname Ewor, to move the motion to use the chambers for lawmaking.
In his presentation, Amaechi told the lawmakers that N368.43 billion would go to capital expenditure , noting that the state expects to get N241.243billion from the federation account, N92.420billion from Internally Generated Revenue, N33.5billion from sales of assets, N100 billion from proposed loans, N6.983billion and N0.660 billion from the World Bank credit and EU grant respectively.
He added: “Rt. Honourable Speaker, with due consultations with relevant stakeholders within and outside the public service, we are proposing an aggregate Budget of N485.524 billion for the year 2014. This is N4.797 billion (0.98%) lower than the 2013 budget of N490.320 billion. The focus of the budget will be on completing ongoing projects in Health, Education, Roads, Transport, power, Water and Agriculture and other critical infrastructure. Capital and Recurrent provisions are N247.573billion and N237.950billion respectively. Our Capital to Recurrent ratio is 76:24 for the financial year 2014 as against 70:30 achieved as at September, in this outgoing year.
“The Proposed 2014 Budget of N485.524 billion will be funded by: FAAC Allocation of N241.243billion; IGR of N92.420billion; Prior year balance of N10.717billion; proposed loans N100billion; credit from World Bank- N6.983billion, EU grant of N0.660 billion and sale of assets of N33.5billion
“A total sum of N117.09 billion has been earmarked for the recurrent expenditure of government in the 2014 against N177.924 billion for 2013. By this proposal, recurrent expenditure is 24.12 percent of the total budget. With this, Government expects to meet salary, overhead and debt service obligations: Out of the amount proposed for recurrent expenditure, N66.96 billion is for salaries. Overhead is put at N23.34 billion.
“Capital Expenditure proposal for 2014 is N368.43 billion against N312.396billion in 2013 and represents 75.88 per cent of the total budget”, the governor explained.
Amaechi also inform the legislature that the state was unable to meet the 2013 fiscal year target as a result of shortfalls from federal government’s allocations, which the central government had attributed to increase in oil theft activities in the Niger Delta region.
But the state PDP has condemned the sitting, alleging that the lawmakers were compelled by Amaechi to sit in Government House, and said the action was a criminality that the party will challenge.
The state chairman of the party, Felix Obuah, at a briefing said:
“The attention of the Rivers State PDP has been drawn to the illegal presentation of 2014 budget at Government House, Port Harcourt, right inside Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi’s office, outside the hallowed chambers of the Rivers State House of Assembly.
“The PDP describes the action to present the 2014 budget outside the hallowed chamber of the Rivers State House of Assembly, as illegal criminal and of no effect. The PDP assures Rivers people and indeed the generality of Nigerians, the illegality cannot be allowed to stay in Rivers State.
“Therefore, the illegal budget presentation at Government House today cannot stand the test of time. Governor Amaechi is creating a lot of criminal records; this is the first time in the history of our dear Rivers State, where we have witnessed this level of rascality and illegality. We have not seen a state government force a state House of Assembly to accept a budget presentation outside the hallowed chambers of the House of Assembly.
“Therefore, we reject the budget presented by Governor Rotimi Amaechi today. The budget is illegal, presenting it outside the hallowed chambers is also illegal and of no effect. The budget will not see the light of the day. We want Rivers people to remain calm; we want to assure them that we will use all the legal means to make sure that the right thing is done in Rivers State.”