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Speech on Public Hearing on 2014 Akwa Ibom State Appropriation Bill

AN ADDRESS BY THE CHAIRMAN, APPROPRIATIONS AND FINANCE COMMITTEE OF THE AKWA IBOM STATE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY, HON (BARR) ONOFIOK AKPAN LUKE, ON THE OCCASION OF THE BRIEFING AND PUBLIC HEARING ON THE 2014 APPROPRIATIONS BILL, ON 30TH DECEMBER 2013

PROTOCOL

In the last two and a half years, Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly has continued to hold steadfastly to its PEOPLE’S ASSEMBLY creed. Accordingly, the people and interests of the State have been the centrepiece of every legislative actions of this fifth assembly.

It is for this sole reason that we in the House Committee on Appropriations and Finance, through the permission and goodwill of the Rt. Honourable Speaker decided, for the second time in the history of our dear state, to make an appropriation law be an embodiment of the direct inputs of Akwa Ibom people.

The State Government has proposed to expend the sum of 469.374billion in the 2014 fiscal year. As stated by the Governor, His Excellency Chief Godswill Obot Akpabio on the occasion of his presentation of the budget proposal, while 16% is proposed for recurrent expenditures, 65% and 19% are respectively being budgeted for capital expenditure and Consolidated Revenue Fund Charges. The proposed budget is also notably predicated on a $74 oil benchmark at a production rate of 2.4million barrels per day in 2014.

The State Executive has unprecedentedly hinged the budget outlay on the International Public Sector Accounting Standards, IPSAS, where utmost attention is placed on sectorial budgeting rather than on funding and individual performance of ministries, agencies and parastatals as we have over the years been familiar with.

Following the commission of the bill to the Committee on Appropriation and Finance for consideration, it was the thinking of my humble self and other members of that committee that given the extent to which an appropriation law can go to decide our collective destiny as a people, it is proper to subject it to the participatory inputs of the entire people of the state. This is the second successive year that we are seeking the direct participatory inputs of stakeholders in an appropriation bill. Beyond this public hearing, we also called on memoranda to be submitted by interested members of the public on the proposed budget. Responses in that regard have been very encouraging. Indeed, these inputs will wholly be the fulcrum upon which the House will make ratifications on the bill before passing the bill into law. By this act, we believe that as a People’s Parliament, the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly has further underscored the pride of place accorded the ordinary citizens in the running of the affairs of our state.

Today, we have stakeholders in the Akwa Ibom project mobilised here through the massive media campaign and direct invitation by the House, all in the bid to ensure that every individual citizen, professional, religious and interest groups are offered the opportunity to have a say in what government proposes to spend from their commonwealth. Our cardinal interest is to see to it that you make inputs into the budget which belongs to you as tax payers, and that your informed contributions will ultimately guide the House in approving monies out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund and Capital Development Fund to service Akwa Ibom state in the 2014 fiscal year.

Let me on behalf the Right Honourable Speaker and the rest of my colleagues assure you of the sincere commitment of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly towards the attainment of a more people-centred fiscal system in our dear state. This is just as His Excellency the Governor is pioneering a more transparent public expenditure and accounting system through his adoption of IPSAS as the paradigm for 2014 budget.

I want to assure you that at the level of the Appropriations and Finance Committee in which I am privileged to serve as Chairman, this committee will ensure that maximum priority is given to your contributions in the final proposal to the House.

Fellow Akwa Ibom people and stakeholders, please permit me to use this opportunity to commend the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Elder Sam Ikon, principal officers, and other Honourable members of the House. I particularly commend the Right Honourable Speaker for initiating the People’s Assembly philosophy, an ideal which we bear in mind as we strive every day as lawmakers to keep faith with our constituents.

Please feel free to make your contributions, as we have gathered here to hear you. Rest assured that your well-meaning inputs will be of enormous value to us. I thank you for honouring this invitation to join in paddling the boat of governance in Akwa Ibom State. God bless you.

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