Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly on Wednesday passed into law the amended 2020 appropriation law from initial N597.74billion outlay to N195billion, to meet up with the economic challenges due to COVID-19 pandemic.
This was contained in a letter sent by the State Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel and received by the Assembly during its emergency plenary at the Assembly complex in Uyo.
According to the Bill, as amended, “The Accountant General of Akwa Ibom State may when authorized so to do by warrants issued by the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, in addition to the sums provided for in Section 1 of the Appropriation Law, 2020 pay by warrants not exceeding savings in the sum of Thirteen Billion Naira from the Consolidated Revenue Fund and One Hundred and Eighty-Two Billion, Six Hundred and Thirty-Five Million Naira from the Capital Development Fund.”
Therefore, the total overall size of the reviewed budget stands at One Hundred and Ninety-Five Billion Naira (N195.6b).
Presiding over the plenary, the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Aniekan Bassey said the step taken by Governor Udom Emmanuel to review the year’s budget downward is very timely to brace up with the economic recession experienced all over the world.
The Speaker also commended the Governor for setting up relevant committees to fight the pandemic in the State.
He said, “May I, at this moment, applaud His Excellency, Governor Udom Emmanuel, for painstakingly standing by our people, for setting up the COVID-19 Taskforce Committee and for subsequently setting up the Post-COVID-19 Economic Recovery Committee for the good and progress of Akwa Ibom.”
The bill passed through the first, second and third reading the same day and was passed into law after due consideration at the Committee of Supply, chaired by the Speaker.
Other members who spoke in support of the Bill unanimously commended the Governor for the timely intervention on the state spending due to the ravaging pandemic which has affected the global economy.
The House Leader, Rt. Hon. Udo Kierian said the fall of the crude oil price in the international market hurt the 2020 appropriation law passed on December 5, 2019, by the State Assembly and assented by the Governor on Wednesday, December 18, 2019.
He said the speedy attention given by the House to review the 2020 fiscal law is to enable financial machinery for the State to operate from and also for the awareness of Akwa Ibom people on the present reality.
The Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriation and Finance, Rt. Hon. Uduak Odudoh, in his contribution, recalled that the major emphasis of the 2020 Appropriation Law was about reduction of MDAs budget size to meet World Bank standards.
Briefing the Assembly Correspondents after the plenary, Chairman of the House Committee on Information, Barrister Aniefiok Dennis, said the special sitting was necessitated based on the global economic reality as posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
While urging the people of the state to continue to adhere to necessary preventive measures, he said: “the 7th Assembly remains appreciative to the Executive for being apt in its approach to tackle the pandemic.”