By Samuel Ukponu/:
Cross Rivers state Governor, Ben Ayade on Wednesday signed the state’s 2021 budget of N281.9 billion into law.
The budget has N192.5 billion representing 67 per cent earmarked for recurrent expenditure, while the sum of N88.196 billion representing 33 per cent was for capital spending.
The Governor, while speaking at the signing ceremony held in his office in Calabar, Ayade said that there was provision for the establishment of a state polytechnic in the budget.
He added that the budget also had provisions for social welfare schemes like grants and other financial benefits to help cushion the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the people.
Ayade explained that his administration had decided to reduce the financial commitments of the state in key projects such as the Bakassi Deep Seaport and the 275km superhighway to five per cent.
According to him, these projects are now to be built on a Public-Private Partnership, PPP model.
“For the budget of 2021, the budget of “Blush and Bliss” the gross component is in the dramatic reduction of the budget size from over N1.01 trillion in 2020 to N281 billion. One will ask what will then happen to that missing gap?
”In the budget presentation, we explained that we are shifting from all the big dreams to the basic, primordial things of survival and ensuring that there is food on the table.
“We had planned in 2020 that by 2021, we are going to move away from food on the table to food on the table and hands on the plough but with COVID-19 and EndSARS protest, we realised that we have to sustain the food on the table further,” he said.
Ayade, however, expressed optimism that with the plethora of industries he had so far established taking off fully in 2021, the economy of the state will get a huge boost.
He commended the members of the state House of Assembly for sacrificing their comfort and personal pleasure during the Christmas holidays to ensure that the 2021 budget was ready for signing.
Earlier, the Speaker, Mr Eteng Jonah-Williams, explained that the House made some adjustments in the appropriation bill the governor submitted on Oct. 5.
He said that it was meant to accommodate new realities that were captured in the bill, especially, the Cross River State Polytechnic bill recently signed into law.