Opinion

Coronavirus: Anambra Lawmaker Calls for Return of 2020 Budget

…Says Budget Review needs to Reflect Key Sectors

By Chioma Ndife

The lawmaker representing Dunukofia Constituency in the Anambra State House of Assembly, Hon. Lawrence Ezeudu, has called on the executive arm of government to return the 2020 budget to the State House of Assembly.

He said the return of the budget to the State Assebly House was to enable Lawmakers in the state to review the 2020 budget to reflect current economic realities occasioned by the coronavirus pandemic ravaging the world.

Hon. Ezeudu who serves as the Chief Whip in the State House of Assembly made the call in Awka during an exclusive interview with Fides, May 18.
He noted that lawmakers had the virement power to transfer funds in a ministry which it viewed as surplus and non-basic in the COVID-19 era to a more essential ministry with deficit, saying that more funds would be appropriated to the Ministry of Health and Education as part of Post coronavirus Strategy.

He explained that the 2020 budget was prepared before the emergence of coronavirus and maintained that the review was needed to enable the state to respond more effectively to the situation created by the pandemic. He said the budget review would take into cognizance certain parameters to enable critical ministries to take a look at the different projects and programmes they were handling in a bid to give value to the people and ensure that even beyond the COVID-19, the economy would be kept safe and sound.

He said that the budget review would look at the possibility of allotting more funds, especially to education, to support the new life order and transformation occasioned by COVID-19 as it pertained to the use of electronic gadgets through zooms and other e-platforms in learning. He urged relevant authorities in the education sector to ensure that the style of learning introduced in Anambra State during the coronavirus lockdown was sustained, saying that it had shown that learning had no barrier.

He disclosed that the sustenance of on-line education would create a population in tune with the fourth industry revolution. He noted that the budget review could look into the provision of electronic gadgets to enhance the idea of electronic teaching.

He said that the possibility of morning and afternoon classes being considered by the state government as post COVID-19 strategy would help to achieve the idea of social distancing in schools, as most schools had been built before the outbreak of the virus. He maintained that the strategy would offer students the opportunity of learning different vocation, describing it as a win-win situation.

He beckoned on parents to make mobile data available to their wards to get them in tune to the education style which had migrated from classroom to on-air, saying that such was part of sacrifice and putting priorities right.

He suggested that the cost of transportation and snacks of the children should be converted to data to make it easier for parents, noting that the idea of using electronic media to study had come to stay.

Ezeudu who had distributed sanitary materials worth millions of naira to the six communities and markets in his constituency during the lockdown period as part of preventive measures against the spread of COVID-19, commended Anambrians for the brotherhood spirit which they had been exemplifying since the outbreak of COVID-19.

He disclosed that the identification of needy individuals in the constituency and the subsequent distribution of relief materials was followed by humanitarian acts from other individuals in the constituency, saying that he was surprised that some persons without much financial will, also came out to donate for the wellbeing of others.

He revealed that there was also a huge demand for more money to be pushed into health through the budget review for the COVID-19 situation to be well managed, as such review would look critically at the provision of PPE for doctors among facilities needed. He stated that the unavailability of protective materials for doctors across the state had led to the death of many individuals as many doctors now rejected patients for the fear of COVID-19.

He advocated that utilities would be reduced, especially the installation of street lights, which, he said, was important, but stressed that people had to be healthy first. He said that the funds in consultancy would also be sent to education and health.

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