Policy Alert, a Civil Society Organisation that promotes fiscal and ecological justice in the Niger Delta, has highlighted some controversial appropriations made in the Akwa Ibom State 2023 supplementary budget.
The Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly in September had passed a Supplementary Budget of N150bn in addition to N700bn earlier approved, bringing the total revised budget to N850bn for 2023 fiscal year.
A breakdown of the Supplementary Budget shows that N50.3bn is appropriated for recurrent expenditure while N99.69bn for Capital.
According to the release signed by the organisation’s Programme Officer, Fiscal Reforms and Anti-Corruption, Faith Paulinus, an analysis of the supplementary budget reveals that a bulk of the capital expenditure on the supplementary budget was made on projects already inaugurated by the past administration.
The already inaugurated projects that received supplementary appropriation included a budget of N1bn for the Dualisation of 19.8km Ikot Oku Ikono Junction-Etinan Road with flyover at Ikot Oku Ikono, N500m for the Construction Etinan-Ndon Eyo road, N1.2bn for Eket-Etinan road, NIbn for Uyo-Ikot Ekpene road, and N6.5bn for Construction of International Terminal Building at Victor Attah International Airport.
“The provision of a supplementary budget for these projects after they had been clearly inaugurated by the previous administration raises a red flag and demands answers”the organization stated.
The statement added,“It is also disturbing that the Government of Akwa Ibom State prioritized provision of furniture for new State House Members and purchase of utility vehicles in the supplementary budget, whereas the allocation for these items in the original budget were already sufficient and far above comparable rates.”
“In the supplementary budget, the purchase of 90 Jeeps for Office of the Secretary to the State Government (SSG) had N2.8bn supplementary budget totaling N5.55bn in the revised budget while the purchase of 90 PickUp Trucks for the office of the SSG had a supplementary budget of N1.2bn totaling N2.6bn in the revised budget for the year.
The statement added that the State Assembly had a supplementary budget of N200m for Assembly Complex Landscaping, N750m for file cabinets for the Assembly, and N200m for office furniture, wondering why these items needed supplementation having been appropriated in recent times.
“While there is nothing wrong with having a supplementary budget,the amount and the target areas on this particular supplementary budget leaves a lot of unanswered questions.
“Akwa Ibom’s total revenue stood at N388.5bn as of the third quarter of 2023. This raises doubt that the State will be able to raise the N850bn revenue it has projected in its revised budget. The N150bn supplementary budget will, therefore, adversely affect the budget credibility of the State.”
Policy Alert however commended the State Government for making a supplementary budget of N6bn for implementation of erosion control across the State, N30bn for Provision to cushion the effect of fuel subsidy removal, and N500m each for Construction of outfall Drain at Atiku Abubakar, Construction of Outfall Drain along Urua Ekpa Road and Construction of Storm Water Control Facilities at Iquita Village, Oron.
The organization also commended the State Government for the N300m supplementary budget for the construction of the 3.6km Mbikpong- Ikot Akpaedu Road in Ibesikpo Asutan, noting that citizens had repeatedly called on government to give attention to the project.