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COVID-19: Ebonyi slashes 2020 budget by 26%, revised estimate pegs at N131b

Clement Nnachi, Abakaliki

The Ebonyi State Government has revised its  2020 budget by 26 per cent in view of the prevalent Coronavirus pandemic ravaging the world.

Governor Dave Umahi made the disclosure, in Abakaliki, the State capital, on Wednesday, on the occasion of the consultative meeting convened by the government for citizens participation on the revised 2020 budget.

He said that meeting was convoked in line with the transparency required by States by Federal Government and the World Bank Project Implementation.

Governor Umahi said that under the revised budget, the health sector has been beefed up by 8.91 percent which now stands at 17.4 percent of the revised budgetp0 while Education sector has equally been increased upwards.

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Said he, “The State 2020 budget was initially N178.366 billion. The percentage reduction of 2020 revised budget of 26 percent now stands at N131.847 billion. It will be sent to the State House of Assembly for passage into law.

He said that the government has reviewed it’s Procurement Law, inaugurated members of the Fiscal Responsibility Law geared towards strengthening the revenue profile of the state.

The governor said that the state has laid solid Foundation to tackle poverty by embarking on infrastructural Development, Capital Development and Human Empowerment Schemes.

He assured civil servants in the state that payment of salaries would be placed on first line charge and would be paid regularly.

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“We are not going to come down on salary of workers, salaries of Pensioners is equally guaranteed “

Governor Umahi also said that his administration since 2015 has not obtained any foreign loan stating that the debts incurred by the state were obtained by the two previous administration of Dr Sam Egwu (1999-2007) and Chief Martin Elechi (2007-2015) respectively.

“The foreign debt of the state is 65.915 million US Dollars. It was obtained by the First and Second Civilian Administration in the state.”

Earlier in their submissions, the Ebonyi State Chairman of Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), Dr. John Egede, called for increment in the budgetary Allocation to the Health Sector.

He urged the government to revisit the Insurance Allowance of Health Workers insisting that investment in Health Sector is far better than other sectors.

Contributing, the state’s chairperson of International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIFA), Mrs. Grace Ihenacho, expressed worry at the upsurge of  rape cases and called on government to make budgetary provision for financial assistance to rape victims.

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National President of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Comrade Chris Isiguzo, on his part, said that the Union would continue to partner with the state government in order to advance human and capital development .

Participants at the Consultative meeting included Representatives of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Accredited NGOs, Captains of industry, Heads of Financial Institutions, Representatives of Chambers of Industry. Members of Boards and Commission, Town Unions, Market Women, Local Government Chairmen, among others.