Onitsha, December 7, 2022

The Anambra State Government under the administration of his Excellency, Prof Cukwuma Charles Soludo recently released the Anambra State 2023 Budget which he termed, The Budget of Acceleration. The Onitsha Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines, and Agriculture wishes to commend the state government for the timely release of the Anambra State medium-term expenditure framework covering the period (2023-2025) and the 2023 capital and recurrent draft budget estimate.

As the voice of the Organized Private Sector (OPS), the Chamber has taken a painstaking review of this budget and wishes to draw the attention of the government to aspects of the budget that would greatly benefit the good people of Ndi-Anambra, especially the OPS.

The budget estimate is pegged at N258.9 billion. The projected capital expenditure is N163.5 billion while the recurrent expenditure is N95.4 billion with total projected revenue of N245.9 billion. Being the first budget of this administration the Chamber commends the State Government for allocating N163.5 billion which makes up 63.2% of the budget to capital expenditure. This is a good indicator of the readiness
of the administration to drive massive infrastructural development to align with his Excellency’s campaign promise of radically transforming the state infrastructure.

However, the Chamber is concerned that allocations to areas like the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Commerce, which has a projected budget of N491 million, which is 0.30% of the capital expenditure, is quite insignificant. Anambra is synonymous with trade, commerce and industry. The incidence of high poverty rate and elements of criminality can only be mollified through strategic engagement and facilitations for the citizenry to be in one enterprise or the other.

The enabling environment that attracts investments and development requires massive attention. The urgent need to tackle the growing unemployment in Anambra State can only be achieved with intentional attention to industry, trade, and commerce. In summary, Trade, Industry, and Commerce are the strategic hub upon which the transformation wheel of the state can be achieved speedily. A budget of N491 million is therefore paltry to achieve the above. We request a review of this allocation through a supplementary budget or by extra-budgetary considerations.

Second, SMEs have remained a veritable tool to grow the economy of any state as well as create accelerated employment. Surprisingly, nothing was allocated to the ANSG/Bank of Industry MSME loans for industries despite the paltry budget allocation of N2 million in 2021.

Again, budgeting a mere N50 million for the development of e-commerce in the state does not portray clear intentions to leverage this economic transformation platform, especially when the very MSMEs that would populate the e-commerce platform are either folding up or lack the necessary infrastructural and financial support to continue.

As said, only through a concerted effort at supporting industries within the state and securing lives and properties can the government hope to reduce unemployment, attract investors, and grow its internally generated revenue.

We also view the budget of N7.6 billion (4.6%), and N6.1 billion (3.7%), allocated to Education and Health respectively as poor, especially considering how important education and healthcare are to the development of a people. If we intend to build a society able to compete with the fast-changing world, then basic education and health must receive a considerable share of the budget amounting
to a minimum of 10% allocation.

When reviewed further, the 2023 budget throws up a lot of concerns regarding aspects where funds have been allocated that could have been beneficial if invested in other areas of the capital project or proposed expenses. For example, the N32.5 billion (19.9%) budgeted for the Reform of Government and Governance appears opaque.

Probing further, the Chamber is worried that the budget for the constituency projects of the State Assembly members is lower than the amount allocated for the purchase of new vehicles for these members. The budget for Constituency projects stood at N900 million for 2023 relative to N1.2b earmarked for new vehicles.

Constituency projects have a direct impact on the lives of the citizenry and should get more allocations in the budget to achieve the much-needed acceleration the government is proposing. Also, the state government is projecting N48 billion in revenue for 2023 from Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) sources. This leaves the state still heavily dependent on other revenue sources such as FAAC, VAT from the federation account, capital aids, grants, etc. While these other revenue sources are complimentary, it might hamstring the government from meeting its obligations if there is a disappointment or delay in the remittance from these sources.

The government must begin to refocus the state to be self-sufficient.

It is for these reasons the Onitsha Chamber of Commerce advocates massive investment in SMEs and industries across the state, creating a business-attracting environment and deepening education and health. By deliberately promoting the growth of businesses, the government can generate the required IGR that the state urgently needs for its progress.

Finally, we request for utmost efficiency and transparency in the execution of this budget.

Chief Sir Kevin Obieri FCA, FCTI
President, ONICCIMA

Leave a Comment