Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State has presented a N141,777,770 budget proposal for the 2015 fiscal year before the state House of Assembly, pledging that no new taxes will be imposed on the people, notwithstanding the poor financial situation of the state occasioned by sharp drop in oil revenue.
The governor, while making the presentation of the budget tagged “Budget of Repositioning’’ on the floor of the Assembly on Tuesday, said that the proposal was guided by his administration’s desire to consolidate on its achievements and reposition the state.
According to him, the 2014 fiscal year also aims at solidifying the on-going physical and social infrastructural development, sustaining the peace and security which had become a brand for which the state was noted as well as ensuring the continuation of the existing cordial relationship among all segments of the state.
According to the governor, rather than impose new taxes on the people of the state, a strategy has been put in place to enhance the level of cost effectiveness of revenue collection, especially with respect to existing fees and levies.
Besides, Governor Ajimobi said that priority would equally be given to expanding the state’s taxable base through accelerated gainful employment generation by private investors in the state.
While the sum of N86.72 billion, representing 61.17 per cent, is allocated for recurrent expenditure, the capital expenditure will gulp N55.05 billion, representing 38.83 per cent of the budget.
The sectoral allocation consists of economy N29.798 billion representing 21.01 per cent; Social Services N58,492 billion representing 41.26 per cent; Urban Regional Development N8.93 billion, 6.3 per cent and General Administration N44,559, representing 31.43 per cent.
He said that the aggregate percentage of 68.57 per cent of the total budget allocated to the economic, social welfare and physical infrastructure activities underscores his administration’s determination to continue to pursue a people-centred and empowerment-focused agenda.
“We consider this strategy as the best antidote to the problem of poverty among our people,’’ he said.
With respect to education, Governor Ajimobi said that efforts would be made in 2015 to complete all on-going projects such as construction and furnishing of classrooms as well as the construction of all the model schools across all the geo-political zones of the state.
While stating that inspection of schools would be intensified towards enhanced quality of education and improved students’ performance in internal and external examinations, he said that a similar principle would be applied to key people-centred sectors such as health, water and sanitation, environment and, peace and security.
Governor Ajimobi said that the 2015 budgetary proposals had been anchored on some policy thrusts and philosophy, stressing that priority would be on projects with micro-specific impact.
He also said that value-chain driven agriculture and agribusiness would be a major plank for realizing wealth creation and poverty reduction objectives, adding that the systems approach to operations would guide the working relationship among MDAs, with a view to eliminating overlapping functions and bureaucratic delay.
Aside mobilising resources and support through the Private Public Partnership (PPP) framework for the execution of eligible projects, he said his government was also finalizing its strategic alliances with development partners towards enhanced capital receipts for the state.
Governor Ajimobi said that his administration had been able to make significant improvements in good governance and strategic alliances with both local and international development communities, peace and security, health services, wealth creation and economic empowerment, environment and habitat as well as infrastructure and staff development and welfare.
The governor acknowledged the several challenges confronting his administration during the outgoing fiscal year prominent among which was the general but steady decline in funds allocation to the state from the Federal Government for almost half of the year, a development which, he said, had impacted negatively on the level of budget performance.
Governor Ajimobi, while commending the harmonious working relationship between the executive and legislative arms of government, solicited for the support of the lawmakers for the credible implementation of the budget.
He also commended the traditional rulers, community leaders, political and opinion leaders, professional and trade groups, civil societies and non-governmental organisations, students across all educational levels as well as civil and public servants for the wonderful support which his administration had enjoyed from them.
In her remarks, the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Mrs. Monsurat Sunmonu commended Governor Ajimobi for taking steps to improve on the internally-generated revenue of the state and to also make provision for private sector participation as government could not do it alone.
She noted that the economic crunch currently being experienced in the country was a warning signal to all states not to rely on the federal allocation as the prices of oil had continued to fall.
“I am glad that this administration is taking steps to improve on its internally-generated revenue and it is also making provision for private sector participation (PPP) to complement government’s efforts,’’ the speaker said.
A member of the Assembly, Hon. Segun Olaleye, in his remarks, recalled that before the advent of the Ajimobi administration, the state was practically groping in the dark, adding however, that the present situation in the state was a clear departure from the past.
“Now we are enjoying unprecedented peace and tranquility in Oyo State while the environment is now greener. This has attracted both local and foreign investors who are now trooping into the state,’’ he said.
Olaleye described Ajimobi as an intellectual giant “who has created an intellectual benchmark for whoever is coming in after him in 2019,’’ adding “you (Ajimobi) are a man who believes in getting the job done to the grass and the grassroots. We appreciate you for not making live unbearable for the people of Oyo State despite the economic downturn’’.
On his own, the Minority Leader, Hon. Rafiu Adekunle described Governor Ajimobi as a man of honour and merit, even as he commended him over the choice of Justice Munta Ladipo Abimbola as the Chief Judge of the state.