. The public hearing session yesterday
Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, yesterday, succumbed to pressure from members of the public who had insisted on knowing the debt profile of the state, as the Chairman of the House Committee on Finance and Appropriation, Usoro Akpanusoh, directed the state government to open up on the debt profile of the state.
Akpanusoh told the state Commissioner for Finance, Linus Nkan, at the public hearing on the 2018 Appropriations Bill to make public, the debt profile of the state, “so as to assist in the discharge of the expected duties.”
There has been concerns from different groups, including the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) calling on Governor Udom Emmanuel to make public the financial position of the state bequeathed to him by his predecessor, Godswill Akpabio, in May 2015.
Akpanusoh, lawmaker representing Ibeno/Esit Eket state constituency, gave the order in his opening remarks at the pre-budget briefing/public hearing on a bill for a law to appropriate monies to fund the 2018 budget.
He noted that budget briefing was “an acceptable practice and a platform where stakeholders are invited to make inputs. It provides an excellent opportunity for the public to participate in budgeting,” which he said gives room for transparency in government expenditure.
He assured that the House Committee on Finance and Appropriation and the general House will judiciously discharge their oversight functions of evaluating the 2018 budget.
Earlier in his opening remarks, and Speaker of the House, Onofiok Luke, said that the legislature adopted participatory budgeting to increase citizen and stakeholder participation and to ensure that inputs from the citizenry who are direct beneficiaries of government’s plans and programmes are adequately captured in the budget of the state.
The Speaker, who was represented by the House Leader, Udo Kierian Akpan, assured that inputs gathered during the hearing from the public would guide the House of Assembly and further help in shaping the output of the 2018 budget.
Presentations were also made by Commissioner for Economic Development, Idorenyin Udo; Special Assistant to Governor Udom Emmanuel on Budget Planning and Implement, Nicolas Ekarika; and Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Akwa Ibom State Council, Patrick Albert.
Other stakeholders who contributed to the bill during the hearing include the Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Etim Ukpong, representative of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Ubong Offiong, CHAIRMAN of the Institute of Chattered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), Victor Eme, as well as representative from the Chattered Institute of Purchasing and Supply among others.
The public hearing had in attendance, members of the House of Assembly, members of the state executive council, representatives from political parties, professional bodies, civil liberty groups, labour unions, Journalists, among others.
Governor Udom Emmanuel, in November, presented a total of N651.500 billion for the 2018 fiscal year to the legislature.
Mr. Emmanuel had said his administration was planning to spend N437.674 billion on Capital Expenditure, N92.697 billion on the Recurrent Expenditure, and N120.859 billion on Consolidated Revenue Fund Charges for the 2018 fiscal year.
Meanwhile, the committee on Finance and Appropriations of the House is to begin the budget defence today where it will play host to representatives from ministries, departments and agencies of government on the 2018 estimates.
. Additional report culled from Vanguard