Calabar — Cross River State Governor, Prof. Ben Ayade, yesterday presented a budget of N1.1 trillion to the state House of Assembly for the 2020 fiscal year.
Presenting the appropriation bill tagged: "Budget of Olimpotic Meristemasis" before the lawmakers, Ayade put the budget estimates for capital expenditure at N911 billion, representing 82.8 per cent of the budget, and recurrent expenditure at N188 billion, representing 17.2 per cent.
Ayade described the budget as one that was anchored on a belief "in the spiritual force which is the third energy."
While explaining that meristemasis is the active cell that stimulates growth in a young plant, which in this case represents the state, he pointed out that "the budget will catalyse into existence a great opportunity for us all to put our hands and legs on the pedal and fill it off."
He said the decision to allocate 82.8 per cent of the budget to capital expenditure was "indicative of our aggressive commitment that will continue to reduce recurrent expenditure and focus on capital expenditure."
On the sectoral breakdown as captured by the appropriation bill, Ayade disclosed that the health sector would gulp N44 billion, education N38 billion, new city development N35 billion, while agriculture would get N22 billion and social housing to gulp N12 billion, among others.
The governor announced plans to set up anti-tax agents to ensure that the tax policy of his administration was sustained as he would not like to tax the needy to poverty.
"All low income earning people, civil servants earning below N100,000 will be exempted from tax," Ayade said, adding that "small scale businesses like barbing saloons, hair dressing and other surviving agencies are hereby exempted from taxation."
He also abolished the daily payments of N500 to N1,000 levies by taxis plying the state, noting that they would now pay N2000 only every month.
On the size of the budget, the governor said: "We must come to the understanding that indeed any state whose budget is driven by the envelope size is limited in vision.
"There are two ways in business and public sector management that you derive your budget. It is either that your budget comes as an expression of your envelope size or as an expression of your ambition.
"The prosperity agenda set for this state does not allow me the opportunity of an envelope budgeting. Our budget prescribes the actual cost element, while the intellectual financing shuns the cost because the ambition so expressed allows us the latitude to drive in ensuring that we guarantee that all aspects of the budget so provided are driven."