By Musa Sunusi Ahmad

Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State has unveiled a draft budget of N237bn for 2021 fiscal year, saying it reflects government’s commitment to promote equal opportunity, accelerate human capital development and attain fiscal viability.

The governor noted that the budget proposals have taken into account the economic uncertainty unleashed by Covid-19, assuring that the draft budget is underlined by fiscal realism.

‘’Despite the subsisting dangers from the Covid-19 pandemic, life must continue, and we must strive to manage the situation as best we can and make progress wherever possible,’’ he assured.

El-Rufai who made this known while presenting the draft 2021 ‘Budget of Recovery’ to the Kaduna House of Assembly on Tuesday, disclosed that the document proposes N157.56bn as capital expenditure and N79.96bn as recurrent expenses, a 66% to 34% capital to recurrent ratio.

The governor explained that the 2021 budget proposals retain the government’s commitment to Education and Health as the principal drivers of human capital development.

“In 2021, we propose to spend N59.59bn on Education (about 25% of the budget), N35.78bn or 15% on Health and N55.1bn or 23% on Infrastructure. These three sectors are taking 63% of the total proposed budget.

“A sum of N124bn, almost 79% of the capital budget of N157.56bn is allocated to the Economic and Social sectors. This preserves the ability to maintain investment levels in Education and Health, while continuing projects in the urban renewal programmes,’’ he added.

El-Rufai stated that since 2015, the government has pumped record levels of capital investment into the state.

“In 2019, Kaduna State achieved 97.5% budget performance for capital expenditure, spending N148.57bn of the N152.33bn budgeted. This is more than twice the erstwhile record of capital spending of over N62bn in 2016’’, he said.

The governor expressed gratitude to the Kaduna State House of Assembly for the partnership that has enabled the government to anchor many of its reform measures in new laws.

“The close to 100 new laws enacted since 2015, include legislation to institutionalise reforms in public finances, procurement, taxation, child welfare and protection, investment promotion, scholarships, youth capacity building and residency, among others. The new laws also created a geographic information service and an internal revenue service,’’ he said.

El-Rufai informed the House of Assembly about the bills that will be coming from the Executive Branch for the rest of 2020 and 2021, promising that there would be new Finance Bill since the government has no intention to raise taxes and levies.

The governor pointed out that one of the new bills will include a Social Protection Bill to build on the recent approval of a State Social Protection Policy by the Kaduna State Executive Council.

“This places us in a better position to propose a Social Protection Bill to domesticate the various social intervention programmes of the Federal Government and propose a state-wide social safety net that will address the basic needs of our poorest and most vulnerable citizens,’’ he argued.

El-Rufai promised that government will also propose a Chieftaincy and Traditional Councils Bill to entrench the reforms of the chieftaincy system, specify composition and classification of emirate and traditional councils, and update the provisions of colonial laws on the subject.

The governor listed other pending laws to include an Employment Promotion Bill, a State Education Bill, a Commercial Code and a Family Court.

The governor also reeled out the achievements of his administration in the last five years in Kaduna state, recalling that Kaduna is the first state to pay the new minimum wage and it is among the top states implementing the contributory pension scheme.

He promised that the state will continue to abide by its Putting People First agenda, citing the completion of Phases1 and 2 of the Zaria Water Project, the agreement with the Federal Government on the Greater Kaduna Water Supply Project and the ongoing unprecedented urban renewal projects in Kaduna, Kafanchan and Zaria.

‘’In 2019, Kaduna State entered the ranks of the top six states for internally generated revenue in Nigeria, collecting N44bn in taxes and levies without hiking tax rates,’’ he said.

The governor disclosed that Kaduna came first out of 24 states assessed in the State Fiscal Transparency and Accountability (SFTAS) Programme.

According to him, the World Bank ranked Kaduna State as the number one place for ease of doing business in Nigeria from the 21st position out of 36 states and FCT in 2014.

‘’Kaduna State is number one for foreign direct investment, with $800m already invested and $2.1bn in pledged investments,’’ El-Rufai further said.

The governor pointed out that his government has convened five successful editions of the Kaduna Economic and Invest Summit (KADInvest), which showcased the state as favourite destination of job-creating foreign and domestic investments.

‘’Through the $150m Olam poultry project, which was commissioned in 2017, we have made Kaduna the poultry hub of northern Nigeria,’’ he added.

El-Rufai also recalled that his administration has ‘’broken ground for the N20bn Damau Milk Farm project, a collaboration between our state and European dairy giant Arla.’’

‘’ This is designed to help transform and modernise livestock production in Kaduna state into a commercially viable animal husbandry business,’’ he pointed out.

The governor also said that government ‘’launched the Urban Renewal Programme to improve infrastructure, transport connections and the liveability of our cities.

El-Rufai however,said it is an intervention intended for three main cities of Kaduna, Kafanchan and Zaria, starting from the state capital, where new roads, expanded arterial roads, shopping malls and neighbourhood centres are included. ENDs

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