By Modupe Gbadeyanka
Speaker of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Mr Onofiok Luke, has disclosed that the House would be guided by current economic realities in its consideration of the 2017 budget sent to the assembly by the executive.
Declaring open a one day public hearing on the 2017 Appropriation Bill titled: A bill for a law to Appropriate monies out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund and Capital Development fund to the service of Akwa Ibom State Government, the Speaker who was represented by the Deputy Speaker, Mrs Felicia Bassey, said the 6th assembly which is christened the people’s assembly, will always involve the citizenry in all its legislative engagements.
“As you may already know, the 6th assembly has over the last 19 months established and sustained the culture of putting in place public hearings like this for the bills that we pass.
“I wish to emphasize that nothing passes through this house that we don’t get public input. We will look at the economic situation in the country and allow these realities guide our decisions on the components of the budget,” the Speaker said.
While commending members of the public for honouring the invitation of the House, Mr Luke explained that the essence of the public hearing was to give Akwa Ibom people an opportunity to contribute their inputs to the budget, saying the aim was to ensure that the people of the state were carried along in the budgeting process.
Addressing the gathering, Chairman, House Committee on Appropriation and Finance, Mr Usoro Akpanusoh, stated that the public hearing exercise has become a normal parliamentary practice introduced by the House in order to bring together members of the public for the purpose of collating inputs that would guide the lawmakers in the consideration of the budget.
“It has become a norm in Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly that budget hearing is held whenever we receive the state budget from the executive.”
He said the House is committed to ensuring accelerated passage of the budget to enable the state government implement its lofty programmes and projects as encapsulated in appropriation bill, 2017.
Commissioner for Finance, Mr Linus Nkan, and his counterpart in the ministry of Economic Development were on hand to brief the gathering on underlining assumptions of the 2017 budget proposal of the state government, as well as the development objectives of the Mr Udom Emmanuel led administration.
In their separate presentations, the Commissioners explained that the policy thrust of the 2017 appropriation bill is intended to improve the living standard of the people of the state.
In a good will message, State Chairman of the PDP, Mr Obong Paul Ekpo who scored the budget a hundred percent, said “PDP government means well for Akwa Ibom people”.
“I listened carefully to the details of the budget the details of the budget and I discovered that the budget encapsulates every facet of our lives”.
Memoranda were submitted by various stakeholders including the Chairman, Akwa Ibom State Council of Chiefs, Mr Owong Achianga, State NLC Chairman, Comrade Etim Ukpong, Chairman, Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Akwa Ibom State Council, Elder Patrick Albert, among other members of the society.
A representative of the civil society, Mr Tijah Bolton Akpan of ‘Policy Alert’ organisation, canvassed for a stronger oversight on TSA implementation in the state, and close supervision and monitoring of the implementation of the budget by MDA’s.
He stressed the need for the state to speed up the process of enacting and domesticating the fiscal responsibility and public procurement law.
Mr Joshua Eyo Asuquo of the Chartered Institute of Taxation in Nigeria (CITN), who also represented Association of Professional Bodies of Nigeria, advocated for an increase in monthly revenue projection from N2.3 billion as captured in the budget to N3 billion.
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