FG revision of macroeconomics show tough time ahead ― Ortom

Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom on Monday said that the Federal Government revision of the Macroeconomic projections and assumptions in the 2020-2022 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) are indications that the fiscal outlook would be considerably worse than it is now.

Ortom stated this while declaring open a town hall meeting for the preparation of the 2021 budget in Makurdi.

The governor expressed concern that the country is still grappling with the economic shocks of the global economic slowdown created by the Oil supply war between Saudi Arabia and Russia and the disruptive impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said that the nation is presently facing a serious economic challenge citing the World Bank projection on the country entering a recession that will be deeper and longer than anything ever experienced in over 40 years.

Due to already economic challenges, the governor said that the three tiers of government have been forced to reset their revenue projections.

He noted that his administration had to reduce its 2020 Budget projections by 43 per cent, from N190 billion to N108 billion.

He added that ample provision was also made to control COVID-19 and mitigate its socio-economic impact by cutting down all non-essential overheads and refocused the State Capital Expenditure on the most critical infrastructure projects.

According to him, “For our 2021 Budget, we have to anticipate an even more disruptive impact on our projected revenues and expenditure and therefore proceed in the assumption that the Budget cannot be any higher than what it is in the outgoing year and indeed, it might be less.

“We, therefore, need to adjust our expectations to this reality as a Government and as a people.

“Let me reiterate that our vision for Benue State is that of an economically seIf-reliant federating unit of Nigeria. This vision is not a pipe dream. God has endowed us with the human and natural resources that we can harness towards achieving it. Lest the current challenges tempt us to despair and to lament our fortunes, we shall overcome our challenges.

“I want to restate our administration’s determination to institutionalise prudence, transparency and accountability in the management of public resources and to ensure that citizens are engaged in this process. It is in furtherance of this agenda that we have convened today.

“It is in the same spirit of openness and accountability that I must warn that the Macroeconomic outlook for our 2021 Budget is far from rosy.

“It could be recalled that my leadership soon after taking office in 2015, had to suffer through a recession, the first in over two(2) decades. We have experienced the brutal devastation of invasion by murderous herdsmen that threatened our very existence in this country.

” Both in 2015 and 2019, we have had to fight long-drawn Court battles over the mandate that our people freely and overwhelmingly gave to us. Now another recession is now predicted that will be deeper and longer than anything we have seen in this country, while the rampaging COVlD-19 is the biggest health crisis in over a century and has caused the greatest economic disruption since the end of Nigeria’s Civil War.

“In fact, the pandemic has already reset the world such that no one knows what the new normal is or will be. Our lives and our economy are in an existential fight for survival, and things will never be the same again.

“In the face of these challenges, we have built or completed numerous roads and electricity infrastructure projects, revamped hundreds of Schools and Health facilities at all levels, secured and preserved accreditation for our key Health Sector Institutions transformed Technical Education by increasing the number of Polytechnics.

“We have also passed new laws to improve security and public safety, created new Institutions to improve Public Sector Governance and Financial Management, created a new Ministry to drive progress in the areas of Science, Energy and Technology started an Online Television, promoted Agricultural Mechanisation and invested in revamping moribund Water Projects and building new ones, among many other accomplishments. Indeed, as we have started commissioning some of these projects.

The governor urged all participants to take the Town Hall Meeting seriously so as to make a direct input into the budgeting process, assuring that his government will treat the engagement with all the seriousness it deserves.

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