Nigeria: Ekiti to Cut Spending By N680 Million to Survive Current Economic Challenges

As a way of coping with the current economic situation in the country, Ekiti State stakeholders yesterday agreed with the state government on measures to cut government spending in order to bail the state out of current economic challenges occasioned by downturn in global economy.

The state Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, disclosed that his administration would not sack any worker despite the cash crunch being experienced in the state as well as the need for a cut in government spending.

Fayemi said if the state must survive the current economic quagmire, there was need to cut over N680 million expenses per month.

The governor and stakeholders, however, agreed on reduction in subventions to higher institutions in the state, cutting or totally stopping the running of grants to offices, and discontinuation of the consequential adjustments of the minimum wage for senior category of workers as well as ramping up of tax collection in a bid to shore up the state Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).

The one-day stakeholders' meeting in Ado-Ekiti was called by the state government as an avenue to present the state of the state finances to the critical stakeholders comprising civil servants, traditional rulers, religious leaders, labour and trade union leaders, representatives of the academic community, students' leaders, and the leadership of market women, artisan and transporters, among others.

Also in attendance were the Deputy Governor, Chief Bisi Egbeyemi; Speaker of the House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Funminiyi Afuye; members of the state House of Assembly, chairmen of the 16 local government councils, members of the state executive council, and body of Permanent Secretaries in the state.

Fayemi set the tone for the day's discussion when he reeled out the state finances, including project distributions as well as current financial challenges.

The governor, whose presentation also included comparison with other sister states, explained the need to reflect the economic reality and development in the country in order to avert possible economic crisis.

Speaking on the possible way out of the current economic situation, Fayemi, among others, proposed the need to significantly increase the state's monthly IGR from N700 million to N1.2 billion, and also cut non-core expenses incurred through MDAs, expenditure, traveling, sponsorships and events.

The governor, who said he was not elected to complain but to find solution to the economic situation of the state, suggested the need to emulate neighbouring states on consideration for alternative means of funding the state tertiary institutions, adding that N700 million spent monthly on intervention can be used to cater for other critical development needs.

Other options, which the governor suggested for adoption, included the attraction of more private investors, divestment and privatisation of state owned assets to maximise profit; suspension of the state consequential minimum wages adjustment and issuing of promissory notes to creditors.

According to him, "We don't want to sack anyone in the state; these are our people doing their jobs, but we cannot continue to manage what we cannot manage so we may have to discuss with our comrades in the organised labour, not a cancellation but a suspension of the minimum wage consequential adjustment until such a time that our finances are improved.

"We need to take a decisive and quick steps on these tough but necessary choices that we have to take in order to restore the state back to fiscal health and then swift consolidation action taken in short term and continuous review to inform medium to long term planning."

Fayemi in his presentation explained that his strong fiscal discipline, transparency, open governance, goodwill and increased confidence in his administration had opened up the state for more investors as well as return of development partners who were supporting the state in a whole range of initiatives.

However, he noted that his administration had to face dwindling revenue, needs to continue to fulfill recurrent expenditure obligation and insecurity, which he said required huge amount of money to overcome.

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