From: Uche Nnorom, Makurdi
Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom has stressed 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.
The Governor who stated this while declaring open a town hall meeting for the preparation of the 2021 budget yesterday in Makurdi, expressed worry 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 noted that the nation is now facing a tadically changed situation in which the national economy is expected to contract by at least 4.42%, along with substantial cuts in Public Revenues, stressing that the World Bank and many others are now projecting that the country is entering a Recession that will be deeper and longer than anything we have seen in over 40 years.
Governor Ortom said the three tiers of Government have been forced to reset their Revenue projections in the face of these realities, averring that with this development, the State government have had to reduce its 2020 Budget projections by 43 percent, from N190 Billion to N108 Billion.
He added that ample provision were also, made to control COVID-19 and mitigate its socioeconomic impact, while cutting down all non-essential Overheads and refocused the State Capital Expenditure on the most critical or catalytic infrastructure projects.
“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 this year and indeed 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.”