2024 Budget: Delta Govt organises citizen’s engagement for consideration 

By Dave Okpogadie, Asaba

In its bid to put in place a far reaching budget with inputs from all sectors of the society, the Ministry of Economic Planning in Delta State has organised a stakeholders’ meeting on the State’s proposed 2024 budget.

The stakeholders meeting, tagged ‘Citizens Engagement On 2024 Budget’ which was an opportunity for Deltans to make their contributions to the 2024 budget, was well attended by all sectors including traditional rulers, Civil Society Organisations and Deltans from all walk of life to make their inputs.

Addressing participants at the occasion, Delta State Commissioner for Economic Planning, Hon. Sonny Ekedayen said the idea of the citizens engagement on 2024 budget was to get suggestions from the public on how to make 2024 budget a better one.

He remarked that the strategy for 2024 budget was fiscal discipline hinged on the principle of open governance where interaction between the government and the people would be sustained, adding that the approach would promote transparency, accountability, and effective delivery of services to the citizens.

In his words, “Participatory budgeting is a process of democratic decision making that engages citizens in the allocation of public resources. It is a powerful tool for promoting transparency, accountability and citizens engagement in governance.

“Through this process, citizens are given the opportunity to propose and prioritise projects that are of importance to them. These proposals are often evaluated and the most impactful ones are selected for implementation.”

The Commissioner expressed the hope that the engagement would afford the government the opportunity to understand the need of the people and to ensure that the resources are allocated in a manner that serves the need of the people.

Hon. Ekedayen promised to work with community leaders and Civil Society Organisations to promote citizens participation in the budget development and planning process.

He noted that the government recognised the roles CSOs and Community leaders play, adding that these people ensure that the voices of the marginalised and vulnerable groups are heard and as such, they are very important.

On the 2023 budget, the Commissioner noted that N571.6 billion was approved and a supplementary budget of N71.2 billion was approved in the month of May to cater for end of tenure priorities of the previous administration.

He added that the 2023 budget was further amended to N809.3 billion and was approved by the House of Assembly.

He revealed that the progressive growth of the 2023 budget was as a result of the realisation, after review, that more funding would be available to the government before the end of the financial year.

“Receipts from Internally Generated Revenue, Statutory Allocation, Value Added Tax, Excess Crude Account have shown sign of improvement. As at the end of the first half of the year, our IGR recorded a performance of 138 Percent above the budget. In other words, whereas the sum of N95 billion was budgeted for the entire year, as at June 30th, we have done N65.4 Billion,” he said.

He added that the same trend goes for Statutory Allocation which, according to him, recorded 110 percent performance in the same period.

On the 2024 budget, the Commissioner said the budget would be hinged on the MORE agenda of the governor which is to keep Delta State ahead in all aspects of economy and social well being.

He said main focus of the 2024 budget include Environmental Sustainability, Human Capital Development and Infrastructural Development which includes new town development, provision of electricity and water.

Second Vice Chairman of Delta State Traditional Rulers Council, the Obi of Ubulu-Uno, Henry Kikachukwu in his remarks at the occasion commended the State Government for the programme, saying it was timely.

He noted that traditional institutions in the State had always been partners in progress, while reaffirming the institutions willingness to partner with the State Government to move the State forward.

Chairman, Delta State Presidents-Generals Forum, Prince Igwe Nzekwe appealed to the State Government to capture projects that will alleviate the sufferings of the people, especially in the rural areas in the budget.

He said he had a compendium of needed projects compiled by the forum of Presidents-Generals which he promised to hand over to the commissioner.

Others who spoke at the event include Deacon Okezi Odugala, an environmentalist and founding coordinator of the Delta State Civil Society, Rex Anigboro and Comrade Victor Ojei also from the civil society.

They all commended the Delta State Government for the initiative which has given members of the public to have their input in the budget planning.

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