Anambra Has Been Conservative on Revenue – Mark Okoye

By Jude Atupulazi

The Anambra State Commissioner for Budget, Economic Planning and Development Partners, Mr Mark Okoye, says the government has been conservatively managing her Internally Generated Revenue, IGR; received capital, as well as grants from VAT and FAC.

The commissioner was reacting to a statement credited to the government about deficit budgets being good.

Speaking with Fides in his office, Okoye however argued that the said statement should not be the issue, but how the state government had been listing the budget.

‘It’s not necessarily the case of saying whether they are good or not. I don’t think that’s where the argument should be. We should be focusing on how we are listing the budget and how the listing assumptions are. In this current budget, the federal government uses $57, we are using $55. The federal government is going with 2.2million barrels produced daily and we are using 1.9 barrels produced daily.

‘All these things are done on purpose. What creates a deficit is when you articulate your expenditure profile then you come and articulate your revenue profile; then the difference. When the expenditure outweighs the revenue; that now brings about the deficit.

‘But what I am trying to inform Ndi Anambra is that we have been extremely conservative on the revenue side across board from IGR, from other capital received, from the grants we receive, from FAC, from VAT. On VAT we projected 14.4 million. VAT coming in next year should be 18 billion. So if it went a bit more bullish in the revenue, it can wipe out that deficit. But that deficit provides flexibility. It allows the state the opportunity to key into CBN funding. Go and look at the wonderful work done in Anambra small scale business with only 2 billion Naira and funding over 5,500 cooperatives, creating over 10,000 jobs.

‘Anambra Rice today is the product of ASMA. The diamond pizza at the express is a product of ASMA, a number of the fish farms in Awka north are products of ASMA, creating jobs, creating activities, creating new pockets of wealth across the state. I always ask people to just imagine if we can inject 5 billion Naira; 9% funding, to young people who are doing SME’S across the state, the multiplier effect it will have on our economy and also on job provisions, thereby addressing social concerns of insecurity and what have you,’ Okoye stated.

He said with such money, the deficit would be wiped out once revenue started coming in; even as he noted that it would also provide flexibility to always access different pockets of funding as the year started.

‘If you don’t budget that, if you don’t budget for all those concessionary facilities, what will happen is that this entire process we are embarking on, when we identify funds we want to get from the CBN, we will still go back to the house with another bill on amendment to the budget law requesting for provisions to take all these funds. So it’s not that deficit budgets are bad or good or that a balanced budget is good or bad; it all depends on the structure, the expenditure profile of the state,’ he explained.

Okoye said that with the state’s budget of the last three years, the state had been operating on 75-80% project performance. He said that with the budget that was presented to the house, he was confident that the state would end the year with 90%.

‘These are the numbers that could have never come up before. So in the current climate, look at the federal government. Their budget performance may be 40% or 50%; other states in Nigeria may be about 55-60%, but Anambra is topping with about 90% or 75%,’ he said, remarking that Anambra was the first to submit its budget this time because of the process the state embarked on.

‘This is why I call this budget, the Budget of ndi Anambra, in that it involved everybody,’ Okoye said, noting that with the permission of the governor, the budgetary committee was expanded from about seven persons to 45.

He said it included the CSOs, clergy, manufacturing associations, chambers of commerce, persons leaving with disabilities, Boy Scout, Girl Guide, women’s leaders ,PG’S, ASATU leaders, youth leaders, as well as all the SUG governments of all the tertiary institutions.

He said all these groups discussed the budget extensively for six hours with his ministry after which their inputs were presented to the Exco and the House of Assembly.