Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Rivers lawmakers pass 2014 budget in Govt House


Speaker, Rivers State House of Assembly, Honourable Otelemaba Amachree
THE political crisis rocking Rivers State took another dimension on Tuesday when members of the State House of Assembly passed the state 2014 Appropriation Bill into law in the Government House, Port Harcourt.
The action of the lawmakers, according to sources, was to prevent the police from stopping them from sitting.
It will be recalled that  32  members of the House loyal to Governor Rotimi  Amaechi   had tried to hold plenary in the past in the   assembly complex on Moscow Road  but were barred  by the state  Police Command, which said they  were  relying on the law.
Presenting the budget,      Amaechi  told  23  lawmakers present  that he proposed to spend  N485.5bn  this  fiscal year.
He  explained that the   budget was 0.98 per cent lower than the   N490.32bn he presented in 2013.
The governor   added that the  focus of the budget   was the  completion of  ongoing projects in  the health, education, roads, transport, power, water, agriculture and other critical sectors.
Amaechi also put the capital and recurrent expenditures at N247.573bn  and N237.950bn  respectively.
According to him, capital to recurrent ratio is 76.24 for the 2014   as against 70.30 achieved as of September 2013.
The governor said, “In the light of the 2014 budget, we will not accommodate new projects. This is in the light of current realities and out of a resolve to guarantee efficient service delivery.
“The economic realities arising from already dwindling resources since mid 2013 suggest a need for prudence and good sense this year.
“Government will continue to demonstrate good sense of management by making more money available to complete  projects  this  year. In the process of formulating this budget, we kept our tradition of consulting widely with all relevant stakeholders in the state.”
Reviewing the  budget, Amaechi said the state   expected to get N241.243bn  from the Federation Account; N92.420bn  from internal sources;    N33.5bn from  the sales of assets;  N100bn  from proposed loans;  N6.983bn from the World Bank  and N0.660bn as  grant from the European Union.
He   also told  the legislators  that the state could not meet the 2013 fiscal year target due to the shortfalls from   federal    allocations.
Earlier, the Speaker, Mr. Otelemaba Dan-Amachree,  had said the  assembly took the decision to carry out its legislative functions in a “makeshift chamber” in the Government House.
 The Deputy House Leader, Mr. Nname Ewor, had moved a motion to designate the  place    as the chamber of the   assembly. The Deputy House Whip, Irene Inimgba, seconded the motion.
Dan-Amachree, who adopted the motion, explained that the decision  was based on the insecurity in the state, especially the latest attacks  on two high courts in the Ahoada and Etche Local Government Areas.
He  also said that the assembly complex was still undergoing renovation, adding that the development made it impossible for the  lawmakers to use  it  to perform their legislative functions.
But the state  chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party described the presentation and passage of the budget into law on the same day as illegal and criminal.
“The presentation and passage of the 2014 budget outside the hallowed chambers of the Rivers State House of Assembly is criminal. This illegality cannot be allowed to stand, ” Mr. Felix Obuah, the state PDP chairman said.
Obuah, who added that   he had earlier drawn the attention of the people of the state to the governor’s plan to relocate the assembly to  the Government House, said he had been vindicated by the recent development.
 He claimed  that Amaechi was bent on causing confusion in the state, maintaining that the presentation of the budget outside the Assembly complex was unconstitutional.

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