By Ifeanyi Olannye
Asaba, Oct. 27, 2020 Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta said on Tuesday that the state government appropriated over N33.7 billion for education, youth development, healthcare and agricultural sectors in the 2021 appropriation bill.
Okowa said this in an interview with newsmen in Asaba shortly after presenting the 2021 budget estimate to the state House of Assembly.
He said that education had N23.5 billion, while youth development, health and agriculture had N1.3 billion, N6.8 billion, N2.1 billion respectively.
He said that the COVID-19 pandemic had negative impact on the state’s economy, hence the downward review of the 2020 budget from the initial N395 billion to N282 billion.
The governor said that the review was to reflect the economic reality in 2020.
He said: “Because of the pandemic, we had to contract the 2020 budget.
“That affected the capital expenditure and the budget came down to N282 billion from the initial N395 billion.
“We are hoping that things will improve in 2021, God willing.
“We are looking into the future, hence we have to take up our budget to N378 billion from the reversed 2020 budget of N282 billion.
“And the capital expenditure of the budget is N207 billion, while the recurrent expenditure is N171 billion.
“We will continue with our infrastructure development, particularly roads, and a lot of money is being budgeted for that.
“We also realise that we truly love education and we have several secondary schools and about 1240 primary schools.
“We are going to complete the nine technical colleges that we are beginning afresh and ensure that we improve on the infrastructure in our tertiary institutions.
“We have well about N23.5 billion in the education fund.
“We want to ensure that we continue with our universal health care coverage.
“We also want to ensure that pregnant women and children under five years are treated free of charge in our health institutions because state government pays their premium.”
On youth development, the governor said: “We have initiated a lot of programmes to engage our youths through the ministry and various agencies.
“Job and wealth creation bureau is there, we have provided funds for the training of our youths.
“The Ministry of Youths Development and Rural Youths Acquisition Programme are there to train the youths.
“The Ministry of Women Affairs will make impact on the girl child entrepreneurship programme.
“It will also make impact on our women strongly in 2021 to take them away from the devastating impact of COVID-19.
And through the Ministry of Science and Technology, we have a lot of Information Communication Technology to engage our youths in and ensure they are taken away from poverty.
“A lot of programmes have been initiated to engage our youths and this is very important because of what have been brought to the fore with this #EndSARS protest.
“This is not just directed at the ending of SARS but drawing government’s attention to the neglect of the youths and the need to encourage them by providing skills and jobs for them.
“It is very important that we must begin right, ensure that we engage our youths in entrepreneurship programme to make them wealth creators.”
The governor further said that over N1.5 billion had been provided for the state Micro Credit Development Agency to make funds available for both farmers and others to be trained in government’s vocational and technical centres.
“We have about 10 of such vocational and technical centres across the state where we train several thousands of our youths annually,” he said.