Four and half years ago, we initiated the NEW RIVERS VISION development blueprint to transform our State and create a cohesive, united, peaceful, resilient, secure and prosperous society.
2. After four years of stewardship and on the basis of our performance, the good people of Rivers State renewed our mandate for another four years. And so today, I have the honor to stand before this August Assembly to present the budget estimates for the fiscal year 2020, being the first budget in the second and final term of our Administration.
3. Mr. Speaker, before I proceed with my presentation, let me appreciate this Honorable House of Assembly, once again, for your support to the policies and programmes of our administration and thank you for your commitment to the progress of our State. We have worked together as a team with a shared vision and we all must also share in glory of our achievements.
4. Permit me to also thank our people, the good people of Rivers State, for their unceasing prayers and support, which kept us strong like a metal forged in fire, focused and confident of our capacity to deliver.
5. Four and half years ago, we were confronted with seemingly insurmountable challenges of development, including a national economy in recession and a State in helpless circumstances.
6. But we were not deterred. Our resolve and our spirit were unbreakable, and like a mettle produced through struggles, nothing could daunt or constrain us. It happened that our Government was unconquerable and our match to progress was equally unstoppable.Rather, we were inspired by the challenges that we inherited.
7. Today, in the first year of our second and final four-year term, our Government remains strong. Our economy has recovered and continues to grow. And our development policies,programmes and projects continue to impact positively on the State and our people.
8. For infrastructure, particularly roads, it has been some kind of a revolution. With deliberate focus and dedicated funding, we have delivered the biggest ever construction and upgrade of quality road infrastructure for our State. All eyes can see the reconstructed, new and improved roads and bridges interconnecting our State and our people into our communities, farmlands, markets and goods and services.
9. Local Government Areas such as Etche, Omuma, and Oyigbo, hitherto cut-off have been reconnected to the State while we have also ended the travel nightmare for our people in Opobo/Nkoro who are now accessing the rest of the State by road. These are memorable achievements that will accelerate developments in these Local Government Areas.
10. We have invested considerable funds in both hard and soft infrastructure of education, healthcare, security, sports development, economic growth and poverty reduction resulting in much improved access to quality education and healthcare delivery, security of lives and property, and positive economic growth.
11. By and large, the development effort of our government across all indices of our NEW VISION blueprint is clearly evident everywhere you go even as we admit that there is still much more to do to realize our collective aspirations and fulfil our destiny as a united, peaceful and thriving society.
12. It is on this optimistic premise that we have come to present the Rivers State Budgetary Estimates for fiscal year 2020 before the State House of Assembly for the consideration and passing into law.
13. Mr. Speaker, the 2020 budget is about effective resource mobilization, responsible management of available finances, living within our means and delivering efficient public services to our people. The budget has been prepared within the Revised Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) 2020 – 2022 and our Fiscal Strategy Paper.
14. Going through the MTEF, you will notice a strong re-commitment to fiscal discipline and responsible resource management. We kept our revenue and growth assumptions within feasible limits based on reasonable assessment of the prevailing state of the domestic and national economies and opportunities for growth.
15. Above all, the budget underlines where we are and the strides, we intend to deliver to strengthen the foundations of economic growth, resolve the critical challenges of state-building and usher in a new era of infrastructural and socioeconomic transformation with measurable results for our State and a better future for our people.
2. Overview of budget performance for 2019
16. In 2019, we had a total revenue estimates of N480,411,324,684.00with the following funding plan:
(i) Opening balance = 4,662,073,844.92 billion;
(ii) Statutory Allocation (FAAC) = 73,169,813,022.00 billion;
(iii) 13% Mineral Fund = 145,070,991,780.00 billion;
(iv) Taxes (IGR) = 120,492,891,302.00 billion;
(vi) Budget Support/Paris Club = 27, 337,926,155.08 billion
(vii) Exchange gain/Forex Equalization = 8,000,000,000.00 billion;
(viii) Local and international credits = 75,000,000,000.00 billion.
17. At as end of October 2019, total net revenue collected between January and October was N261,074,352,792.23 representing about 64.4% of total revenue estimates.
18. Further breakdown shows that only N37,102,734,345.42 was collected as FAAC receipts; N79,794,256,970.19 as 13% Oil Mineral Fund, N90,923,318,238.78 as taxes, and 14,666,472,353.79 as Value Added Tax. Also, N600,000,000.00 was received as Paris Club Refund, N25,000,000,000.00 as local credits, while others, including exchange gain, forex equalization and excess bank charges amounted to N7,496,428,837.31
19. It is obvious from these figures that the 2019 budget under performed by about 36% on the revenue side. However, contributions from internally generated revenue is expected to peak at a much higher rate than what was projected for the year.
20. This was the direct result of improvements in revenue collection arising from the automation of the tax collection system, blockage of revenue leakages, intensive taxpayer education, as well as improvements in tax audits and enforcement.
21. Also, we embraced responsible fiscal spending, reduced corruption in the contract processes, ensured appropriate pricing of projects, goods and services and prioritized public spending mostly to the economic and social sectors to stimulate economic growth.
22. This approach sanitized public finances, enhanced accountability,restored fiscal stability to our economy and enabled revenue surpluses on our current account for the most part of 2019.
23. The performance with respect to expenditures was not that bad either. Actual recurrent expenditure on wages and salaries as at October 2019 stood at N52,973,815,645.07 as against N79,120,041,995.00 projected.Similarly, actual recurrent expenditure on overheads was 10,807,214,040.00 as against N17,749,674,245.00, while recurrent expenditure on pensions/gratuities within the same period was N11,363,996,328.82 as against the N32,490,396,813.00 projected for 2019.
24. Generally, we spent quite below the projected recurrent expenditure because of the savings made in several areas, including elimination of ghost workers from the payroll and cutting down on wasteful expenses, travels and ceremonies.
25. We also kept capital expenditure within the framework of available revenue and borrowed far less than 35% of what was projected to support project execution. Indeed, through ring-fencing and systematic application of resources, we completed a record number of key projects, carried several others to advanced execution stages, and kick-started new ones, including the simultaneous construction of three flyovers at Rebisi, Rumuokoro and Rumuogba. Some of the key projects we delivered in 2019 include:
· Hon. Justice Ndu (Elelenwo – Akpojo) dual carriage way and street lights;
· Rivers State University Teaching Hospital;
· Senior Civil Servants Quarters;
· Ogbum-Nu-Abali Fruit Garden Market in D/Line;
· Rumuwoji Market in Mile 1 Diobu;
· Government Craft Centre, Port Harcourt;
· the reconstructed Government Secondary School, Ubima;
· Nigeria Labour Congress Secretariat building;
· Rivers State University Students Union building;
· the Real Madrid Football Academy;
26. We also initiated and equipped the special security outfit, christened: “Operation Sting” with 76 patrol/operational vehicles fitted with communication gadgets; 4 armoured fitted gunboats, 2 Armoured Personnel Carriers and 450 hand-held mobile radios to fight banditry, armed robbery and kidnapping and ensure security of lives, businesses and property.
27. Mr. Speaker and Honorable members, it is noteworthy that although total revenue receipts were way below what was projected, we made tremendous positive impact with the implementation of the 2019 budget through careful and focused planning, prudent management and efficient deployment of available resources.
28. However, our performance could have been better but for the difficult national economic environment, including the escalated costs of things, high inflation, and drastic shortfalls in national revenue. These and other negative economic factors exerted serious pressures that constrained the productive capacity of our economy to generate adequate development revenues for the State.
29. We wish to reassure all that we will continue to drive our State on this progressive economic trajectory and deliver more development projects to our people in 2020 and the remaining years ahead for this Government. The peace, security and well being of our people are the reason we are in government, and we will not fail to deliver on these and other aspirations as we progress with the execution of the budget for 2020.
3. The State’s economic outlook for 2020
30. Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, it is pertinent to bear in mind the state of the national economy when making projections about our own economy. Various forecasters, including the World Bank, have lowered the growth expectations of the national economy for 2020 to around 2.2% due largely to the volatility of the international oil price and the inability of the Federal Government to harvest sufficient revenues to fund the national budget.
31. However, while we have limited capacity to influence the direction of the national economy, we have not relented in our responsibility to protect the State’s economy from external shocks by creating conditions for building a robust self-sustaining and inclusive economy.
32. We started taking steps since 2018 to build and strengthen the sources of economic growth to enable us overcome the uncertainties of the national economy, including the over-dependence on federal allocations to fund our development. And these efforts have started yielding tangible results.
33. With catalytic public investments, we turned the construction industry into one of most important pillars of economic growth in 2019, and which is expected to maintain its dynamism and impact as the fastest growing sector of our economy for 2020, besides public and private sector investments in oil and gas.
34. Furthermore, with an expanding tax base and conducive business environment, the State Government is getting more tax revenues without overtaxing the economy and businesses. And so, with fiscal discipline, accountability, efficiency and delivering value through responsible spending, we now progressing within our means and driving our economy towards achieving our long-term vision of having a self-reliantand sustainable Rivers State.
35. Yesterday, we won back the Sokufield, which was illegally ceded to Bayelsa State by the Federal Government and the proceeds from this field, including the accrued refunds over the years will additional bolster our revenue projections for 2020.
36. We expect the onward economic growth to continue in 2020 peaking around 3.5% to 3.7% with significant improvements in foreign and domestic investment inflows to the different sectors of our economy, with the associated effects on job creation and other economic opportunities for our people.
37. Given therefore the fundamentals of our economy, which has remained sustainable with a steady growth rate since 2017, it is relatively safe to conclude that the economic outlook of our State for 2020 remains positive.
4. 2020 BUDGET ESTIMATES
38. Mr. Speaker, the total budget for Rivers State for the 2020 fiscal year is N530,813,357,619.00, which is constituted as follows:
· Total Recurrent expenditure. = N156,659,436569.00
· Total Capital expenditure = N374,153,920,743.00
5. The 2020 Budget objectives and thrust
39. The 2020 budget is intended to achieve the following development objectives:
· Strengthening the sources of economic growth;
· Building the infrastructure that matches our development vision;
· Enhancing food security, job creation and poverty reduction;
· Promoting sustainable, equitable and inclusive development;
· Advancing human capital development; and
· Ensuring sustainable security and social cohesion;
6. Financing the 2020 Budget
40. The budget will be funded from the regular revenue sources, including Statutory Allocation, 13% Oil Mineral Fund, Taxes and non-tax revenues such as feeds, fines, permits, rents, interests, dividends, licenses and domestic credit.
7. The 2020 Recurrent Expenditure
41. The total projected Recurrent expenditure of N156,659,436569.00 for 2020 is proposed to be spent to meet government’s financial obligations on salaries, wages and the day-to-day running of Ministries, Departments and Agencies.
42. The sum of N70,227,748,472.32 is earmarked for salaries and wages; N8,000,000,000.00 for the new minimum wage, while N18,429,375,634.45 is for overheads.
43. Also, N5,000,000,000.00 is set aside for new recruitments, N3,000,000,000.00 as counterpart fund for pensions, N900,000,000.00 for death benefits and N33,176,728,931.33 as monthly pensions and gratuities.Government has also provided over N400,000,000.00 as counterpart contributions for donor programmes.
44. Furthermore, N15,000,000,000.00 has been set aside for servicing of domestic credits, while only N25,000,000,000.00 has been earmarked for international credits.
45. By and large, we are satisfied that the assumptions of the recurrent expenditure for 2020 reflects the twin objectives of stimulating economic growth as well as keeping the State along the path of fiscal discipline by reducing deficit financing.
8. The 2020 Capital Expenditure
46. The capital expenditure for 2020 is estimated to be N374, 153,920,743.00, which constitutes nearly 70% ofthe total budget.The summary of sectoral allocations of the capital expenditure are as follows:
· Administrative sector: – 15, 061,008,000.00
· Economic sector; – 136, 444,523,766.60
· Law and Justice: – 2, 400,000,000.00
· Social sector -138, 558,553,322.35
· Special Head: – 57, 367,124,462.05
· Loan repayments – 24,322,731,192.00
47. The substantial increase in capital over recurrent expenditure, once again reflects and underscores our commitment to direct more resources to the growth and productive sectors of our economy.
48. What’s more, this Administration is poised to fulfill every promise it made to our people. Consequently, various expenditure portfolios have been allocated to all the relevant MDAs to fund capital expenditures and deliver physical and socio-economic infrastructure and development for our people.
9. Allocations to Programmes
49. The allocations of the 2020 budget to development programmes are as follows:
(i) Agriculture development
50. Mr. Speaker, the time has come for us to acknowledge that agriculture is very vital to the future progress and prosperity of our State.
51. We need to feed ourselves by ourselves with what we can produce with our vast farmlands, most of which have remained untapped.
52. We need to replace our aging, mostly subsistent farmers with our youths and modern commercial farming methods. We need to generate jobs, income and other economic opportunities for our people through agriculture.
53. And the fact cannot be denied that all these and more are possible with meaningful investments in agricultural development.
54. In the last couple of months, we’ve repeatedly spoken about our intention to revive agriculture in partnership with the private sector while leveraging on the incentives from the Central Bank of Nigeria and the s Federal Government.
55. We are now set to match this promise with viable actions with the provision of N40,400,000.00 billion to the agricultural sector for the 2020 fiscal year. In specific terms, we will apply these funds to:
(i) invest and support the commercial production of cash and other crops to which we have relative advantages, such as cassava, palm oil, yam, plantain, banana, rice and vegetables for both domestic and export markets;
(ii) revive the school-to-land programme and engage over 10,000 youths in commercial agriculture;
(iii) establish farmer input support programme to provide farming inputs to farmers across the State;
(iv) train and build the capacity of Rivers State farmers to engage in productive and profitable commercial agriculture, including farming in crops, poultry, piggery, and fisheries;
(v) complete the Cassava Processing Plant at Afam in Oyigbo Local Government Area; and
(vi) support and or partner with private investors to participate in the various agricultural development schemes of the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Federal Government.
56. Mr. Speaker, our children deserve the best education we can provide to equip and prepare them for the future, drive economic growth and contribute to the development of their localities. From the onset of our administration, we prioritized education because we recognized that knowledge is everything pivotal to achieving human progress and prosperity.
57. Building on the progress of the last four and half years, we will continue to ensure adequate funding for education in Rivers State. It is for this reason that we are proposing the sum of N49.471 billion to fund the education sector for 2020. This sum represents 20% of the total budget and is the highest ever budgetary allocation to education, reflecting the level of our commitment to investing in the future of our children.
58. In 2020, we will continue to ensure the systematic rehabilitation, upgrade and transformation of our primary, secondary and tertiary institutions and build new ones where the population demands to deliver a more conducive learning environment across schools in Rivers State.
59. For basic education, we will promptly access the contributory grant from the Federal Government and deploy same to improve access, standards and quality. We will also continue to improve access to ICT infrastructure, employ more teachers to further reduce the teacher/learners’ ratio, especially in English Language, Mathematics, Science and technology and ensure the training and retraining of teachers to deliver measurable results and outstanding outcomes in our primary and secondary schools.
60. By God’s special grace, we will strive to complete the ongoing reconstruction and remodeling of the following secondary schools in 2020:
· Enitonia High School, Port Harcourt in Port Harcourt City Local Government Area;
· Government Secondary School, Ogu in Ogu/Bolo Local Government Area;
· Community Secondary School, Rumuolumeni in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area;
· Community Secondary School, Rumuepirikom in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area;
· Bonny National Grammar School, Bonny in Bonny Local Government Area,
· Government Secondary School, Okarki in Ahoada West Local Government Area,
· Western Ahoada Central High School, Ahoada in Ahoada East Local Government Area,
· Government Secondary School, Abua in Abua/Odual Local Government Area,
· Government Secondary Schoo, Okporowo -Ogbakiri, Emohua Local Government Area
· Government Secondary School, Obuama in Degema Local Government Area;
· Community Secondary School, Omuanwa in Ikwerre Local Government Area;
· Model Secondary School Bakana in Degema Local Government Area; and
· Model Secondary School, Tombia in Degema Local Government Area
61. We will also continue to fund improvements in physical and learning facilities in all our tertiary educational institutions with our Education Infrastructure development grants, including the development of the Ahoada and Emouha Campuses of the Rivers State University, dedicated research funds, endowments, chairs and centres of excellence in our universities.
62. Furthermore, Government is committed to strengthening the institutional framework to consolidate the investments and advance the effective delivery of Technical and Vocational Education in the State.
(iii) Healthcare Delivery
63. Mr. Speaker and Honourable Members, we all agree that providing quality healthcare for our people is the foundation for economic development.
64. You will further agree that we have achieved significant milestones in our efforts to restore our healthcare system and ensure access to affordable and quality healthcare services throughout the State.
65. We have renovated existing healthcare facilities and built new ones across the State. Some health facilities, including the Mother and Child hospital, are being equipped, while 2 out of the 5 regional referral hospitals are also ready for equipping.
66. Only last month, we inaugurated the radiology department of the Rivers State University Teaching Hospitals fully equipped with critical equipment to deliver improved diagnostic, surgical and therapeutic services and care for our people.
67. But we recognize that there is still a lot to do to enhance access to affordable, effective and efficient healthcare system.
68. We need to build and equip more health faculties in needy and underserved communities and neighborhoods.
69. We need more doctors, nurses and other healthcare personnel to eliminate the shortages being experienced in our rural areas.
70. We need to ensure the sustainable availability and affordability of essential drugs in our clinics and health centres.
71. This is why we have provided the sum of N38,900,000,000.00 to the Ministry of Health for healthcare services for the 2020 fiscal year. The fund will be utilized to:
(i) complete the ongoing rehabilitation, upgrading and expansion of the 13 general hospitals spread across the State;
(ii) complete and deliver the Mother and Child hospital with capacity for 108 patients as well as the Degema and Bori regional referral hospitals with combined capacities of over 200 beds;
(iii) continue with the construction of the remaining 3 regional hospitals at Okehi, Omoku and Ahoada to advanced stages;
(iv) continue with the restructuring, upgrade and expansion of the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital;
(v) complete and deliver the Comprehensive Healthcare Centre at Odioku, Ahoada West Local Government Area;
(vi) complete, equip and deliver the reconstruction of the School of Nursing and Midwifery to train nurses of international standards for the healthcare system;
(vii) improve on emergency medical services by procuring more ambulances to ensure effective and more responsive emergency and trauma management;
(viii) ensure excellent coverage on immunization against all vaccine-preventable childhood disease as well as provide effective pre and post-natal and reproductive healthcare by the primary healthcare centres;
(ix) take appropriate measures to enhance preventable measures to manage the burden of public healthcare costs, including effective implementation of the Rivers State Contributory Healthcare Insurance Scheme; and
(x) continue to partner with local, regional and international healthcare agencies, non-governmental organizations and healthcare professionals to ensure better access to primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare services as affordable rates.
(iv) Road and other infrastructure development
72. Mr. Speaker, and Honourable Members, for us, good road network is the lifeblood of our development. We prioritized the provision of road infrastructure and have been delivering quality roads that match our vision for Rivers State from the inception of our administration. No doubts, we have made tremendous impact in our first term and we are determined to continue with the same vigour in our second term.
73. Accordingly, the sum of N93,968,823,766.60 has been provided for the Ministry of Works to continue to fund our strategic road development programme for 2020. Although several road projects are under construction, we are confident about delivering the under-mentioned roads by the end of 2020:
· Kira – Sakpenwa – Bori – Kono road linking Gokana Tai, and Khana Local Government Areas;
· Andoni – Opobo Unity road linking Opobo/Nkoro and Andoni Local Government Areas
· Abonnema Ring Road in Akuku Toru Local Government Area
· Isiokpo internal roads in Ikwerre Local Government Area
· Rumuekini – Aluu road linking Obio/Akpor and Ikwerre Local Government Area
· Rumuepirikom internal roads in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area
· Rumuakunde and Isiodu roads in Emohua Local Government Area;
· Akaer Base road, Rumuolumeni in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area
· Expansion of Nzimiro, Herbert Macaulay, Amassoma and other sundry streets within Amadi Flats, old GRA, Port Harcourt
· Eteo – Sime – Nonwa – Kira road linking Tai and Eleme Local; Government Areas;
· Eleme – Afam road linikng Eleme and Oyigbo Local “Government Areas;
· Rumuji – Ibaa – obele – isiokpo road;
· Omoku – Egbema road dualization in Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Area;
· Ula Ehuda – Odioku – Anwunugboko – Ubeta – Ihuechi – Odiereke road;
· Odieku community internal roads in Ahoada West Local Government Area;
· Abuloma/Fimie/Ozuboko and AmadiAma Community road in Port Harcourt City Local Government Area;
· Bolo community internal roads in Ogu/Bolo Local Government Area;
· Umuogba – Umuokpurukpu – Umueke – UmunjuUmuelechi – Eberi roundabout link road in Omuma Local Government Area;
· Rebisi Flyover in Port Harcourt City Local Government Area;
· Okoro-Nu-odu Flyover bridge at Obio/Akpor Local Government Area;
· Rumubiakani Flyover at Obio/Akpor Local Government Area;
· Expansion of Ikwerre road from Education Bus stop to Igwuruta sections spanning Port Harcourt, Obio/Akpor and Ikwerrre Local Government Areas; and
· Phase one of the Trans-Kalabari road network.
74. In addition, we’ve also warehoused the sum of N26,087,783,322.35 with the Bureau for Special Projects to fund the completion of key ongoing projects and the initiation of new ones, including:
· Government Craft Centre, Port Harcourt;
· Ogbunuabali/Nkpor sand-filled area and shore protection;
· National Union of Rivers State Students Secretariat building;
· Trade Union Congress Secretariat building;
· Government Secondary School, Eteo in Eleme Local Government Area;
· NYSC Orientation Camp Auditorium building;
· D/Line electrification project;
· Reconstruction of Port Harcourt High Court Complex;
· Appeal Court Judges quarters;
· Sand-filling at Kula in Akuku Toru Local Government Area;
· Fencing of Ogbunabali/Nkpogusandfilled area;
· Air force base housing project;
· Bolo internal roads and drainages in Ogu/Bolo Local Government Area;
· Odioku internal roads in Ahoada West Local Government Area;
· Rehabilitation of Bus-stops across the State
· Land reclamation at Bakana in Degema Local Government Area; and
· Land reclamation at Abalama in Asari Toru Local Government Area;
75. Also, the sum of N3,000,000,000.00 is allocated to the Ministry of Transport to complete the Bonny/Bile/Nembe jetty and embark on other key projects, including rehabilitating of bus stops to advance the transport sector in the State.
(v) Youth and Women Empowerment
76. Mr. Speaker, we are seriously concerned with the high unemployment among the youth population, including university graduates and the poverty among rural women, who, in most cases, constitute the economic pillars of households in our communities.
77. Consequently, the need to tackle household poverty through economic empowerment and job creation cannot be over-emphasized.
78. Accordingly, we have allocated a combined sum of N16 billion to the Ministries of Commerce and Industry, Empowerment and Employment Generation, Youths, Sports, and Women Affairs to initiate, coordinate and implement appropriate programmes for poverty eradication, job creation and empowerment for youths and women. to create not less than five hundred thousand jobs for our youths in 2020.
79. Furthermore, Government will:
(i) increase funding for the State’s skill development centres to train and equip our youths with the necessary skills sets and capabilities for self-employment and sustenance;
(ii) institute an Employment Trust Fund to offer interest-free loans of up to ten million Naira to youth and women entrepreneurs across the State;
(iii) recapitalize the State’s Micro Finance Bank for our people to have increased access to loans at single digit interest rates from the bank to fund small businesses;
(iv) provide TVET training that is linked to employment opportunities in collaboration with industries for ten thousand youths;
(v) Scale up training for more youths on coding, animation, games development, cyber security, hardware and networks, database administration at the State’s ICT incubation and innovation centre
(vi) grant tax reliefs and other financial incentives for companies and businesses that hire not less than five youths and women of Rivers origin; and
(vii) engage not less than ten thousand youths and women in commercial agriculture in 2020.
(vi) Sports and talent development
80. Mr. Speaker, we recognize the power of sports as a strategic pillar for the promotion of unity and youth development. This is why we have prioritized sports development and we will continue to do so until the end of our stewardship.
81. Accordingly, we have earmarked the sum of N7.5 billion for the Ministry of Sports for sports and talent development for fiscal year 2020, which would be expended to:
(i) build, rehabilitate and upgrade new and existing sports facilities across the State;
(ii) complete the hostel buildings and ensure the admission and take-off of the Real Madrid Football Academy to nurture the next generation of world-class footballers for our State;
(iii) restart construction work on the long abandoned International Football School at Ebara in Etche Local Government Area;
(iv) revive School sports events and competitions across the State;
(v) ensure the training and participation of Rivers State contingent in national and international sporting events and tournaments; and
(vi) host and or sponsor national and international sporting events and clinics in Rivers State
(vii) Rural Development
82. Mr. Speaker, the development of our rural areas is as important as the urban areas. We shall therefore continue to mobilize resources and investments for the development of our rural communities to improve their quality of life, reduce income inequality between urban and rural areas and stem rural – urban migration.
83. Apart from funds from the Special Projects Bureau, the Ministries of Water Resources and Rural Development and Power also have a provision of N3.2 billion to continue to drive the development of our rural communities, including:
(i) providing basic infrastructure for more rural communities across the State, including roads, access to clean water, electricity, primary healthcare centres and security; and
(ii) completing ongoing roads, water, electricity and healthcare projects in the rural communities; and
(iii)locating commercial farms and agro-allied industries to create jobs, stimulate economic growth and enhance empowerment for our rural communities;
(iv) ending open defecation and protecting the forest, environment and maritime resources of our communities from degradation.
(vii) Enhanced security of lives and property
84. Mr. Speaker and Honourable Members, the recent travel advisory by the United States shows that Rivers State is much safer for residents, businesses, and tourists, thanks to the efforts and support we have been giving to the security agencies to ensure that our State is peaceful, safe and secure.
85. We wish to assure you that we shall not relent on our determination to keep Rivers State safe and secure. To this end, we will continue to prioritize funding for security services for as long as the threat exists.
86. Accordingly, we have provided the sum of 23 billion naira to ensure all-round security cover for Rivers State. The money so provided will be spent to:
(i) provide vehicular, necessary security gadgets, logistics and other operational support for all the security agencies, including the armed forces to enable them provide 24 hours security patrol, reconnaissance, intelligence gathering and operations throughout the State;
(ii) provide more gun-boats to the Nigerian Navy to patrol and ensure security in our waterways;
(iii) provide, strengthen and sustain the operations and services of the special security squad (Operation Sting);
(iv) prepare the policy and legal framework for the establishment of the Rivers State Security Trust Fund and ensure its operationalization;
(v) strengthen the Ministry of Justice and the States Judiciary to ensure prompt and effective prosecution of accused persons; and
(vi) strengthen the capacity of Local Government Chairmen, traditional rulers, and Community leaders to ensure peace and security in our communities; and
(vii) set up the State Emergency Centre to manage and coordinate all emergency, security and information concerns in the State.
(viii) Water supply,sanitation and environment
87. Mr. Speaker, to improve access to water and sanitation, we shall continue to implement the Port Harcourt Urban Water Scheme as to provide clean and safe pipe-borne water to cover over two million residents of Port Harcourt City and Obio/Akpor Local Government Area.
88. The bidding process for this this project being undertaking with the credit from the African Development Bank and the World Bank will soon be completed and pave way for practical execution.
89. We will also continue to implement the State’s Rural Water and Sanitation Programmes in conjunction with European Union and other international development partners to provide clean and safe water to our people in the rural communities across the State. There is a cumulative of allocation of 1.855 billion naira for the funding of urban and rural water schemes across the State.
90. The sum of N5,000,000,000.00 is provided to fund sanitation services although we also intend to introduce some form of cost recovery from the public as the burden of keeping Rivers State clean continues to escalate.
91. We have also provided over a billion naira to the Ministry of Environment to promote and protect our environment, combat illegal mining and enforce strict compliance with the States laws, policies and standards on our environment.
(ix) Deployment of ICTfor Service Delivery
92. This year we rolled out several ICT platforms to reduce the cost of governance and enhance transparent, accountable and effective public service delivery.
93. As at today, the Ministries of Education, Health, the Judiciary, aswell as, the State’s Internal Revenue Services have all been connected to the State’s e-Governance platform and are delivery relevant public services to the public electronically, thereby reducing the cost of doing business and enhanced information management in these ministries and departments.
94. In 2020 we shall continue to expand the reach to more MDAs and connect them to the Government Wide Area Network to ensure that government transactions are almost completely paperless and efficient. Already, the Ministries of Lands as well Urban Development and Physical Planning are set to launch their own electronic platform for their transactions while other departments would follow in due course.
95. Against this background, the sum of N1,000,000,000.00is provided in this budget to drive the implementation of the Government’s e-Governance programme for 2020.
(x) Culture and tourism
96. Mr. Speaker, Our State is rich in culture and tourism. Our goal therefore is to make Rivers State a foremost tourist destination in Nigeria. This is why we have allocated the sum of N700,000,000.00.of the 2020 budget to the culture and tourism sector to develop various tourism sites and attractions, including ecotourism sites in the State.
97. In addition, we have provided N300 million to the State Tourism Development Agency for tourism projects and the development and implementation of a tourism marketing Strategy for the State. We shall also take steps to to develop the local entertainment industry, including our cultures, traditions, music, drama, film and other creative arts as part of our tourism promotion strategy.
(x) Housing, social protection and humanitarian interventions
98. Government intends to accelerate housing delivery for low-income earners in partnership with private investors. We have accordingly approved a number of land allocations to some private developers at the Greater Port Harcourt City.
99. The Ministries of Lands and Housing, and the Rivers State Housing and Property Development Authority have an aggregate allocation of N5.063 billion to facilitate the development and delivery of viable housing schemes for 2020.
100. On their part, the Ministries of Social Welfare and Special Duties are allocated the sum of N2,500,000.000.00 to provide support for the vulnerable groups, including people living with disabilities, carryout humanitarian interventions and advance social protection.
101. Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, the 2020 Budget has carefully been designed to have immense impact on economic growth, infrastructure and human capital development, job creation and effective security for our people, which are the drivers of the human prosperity.
102. For years, we have worked as a team to resolve the development challenges that have held us down and kept us in the backwaters of socio-economic progress. And together we have made tremendous progress in all indices of human development.
103. Our economy is better and still growing. Our infrastructure is much more solid and expanding. Our educational system has improved in access, quality and standards. Our healthcare system is improving and more efficient.
104. But poverty, unemployment and the harsh conditions under which our people are living are blightingthe progress we are presently making in economic growth and infrastructural delivery, because it is a jobless growth and our youths suffer when a supposedly growing economy fails to create jobs and other opportunities for them to make their dreams come true.
105. I want to assure you, Mr. Speaker, that this budget contains deliberate, specific and targeted policies and programmes to address, not only the challenges of poverty and development, but also, the overarching concerns of our youths and women for empowerment, inclusiveness and a future to long for. This government keeps promises and we will keep our promise to increase youth participation in the governance and development process of our State.
106. Thus, the theme of this Budget is christened: Budget of “Reassurance, profound impact for inclusive growth and shared prosperity”.
107. We will build and consolidate on the gains and progress of 2019 to deliver on the commitment of this budget for the benefit of our people. We will mobilize resources from the different sources and scale up investments in infrastructure, human capital development and the productive sectors of our economy to create jobs and improve the wellbeing of our people. And as our economy grows and creates opportunities, our people will benefit and enjoy a better standard of living.
108. Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, I am confident that, working together, and with the support and prayers of our people, we can achieve the set targets of this budget.
109. Let me therefore appeal to us to come together as a united people under God and work for a united, peaceful, progressive and prosperous Rivers State. Together we can do it for our State.
110. Mr. Speaker, on this note, I commend the 2020 Budget of our dear Rivers State for favourable consideration by this August House.
111. Thank you and may God continue to bless Rivers State.