By G9ija

Delta State Government yesterday approved a budget estimate of N378 billion for the 2021 fiscal year.

The state Commissioner for Information, Mr. Charles Aniagwu, disclosed this yesterday in Asaba, the state capital, while addressing a media conference on the major decisions reached at the State Executive Council meeting presided over by the state Governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa.

Of the proposed amount, N174 billion is for recurrent estimates while N203 billion is earmarked for capital expenditure, he revealed.

Aniagwu, who explained that the exco arrived at the estimated total figure of N378 billion after reviewing upwards the sum of N372 billion presented to it by the state Ministry of Economic Planning headed by the Ministry Commissioner, Dr. Barry Gbe.

The budget estimates will be presented to the state House of Assembly next week by the governor, the information, the commissioner added.

Flanked by the Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to the Governor, Mr. Olisa Ifeajika, the information commissioner said the exco also approved the concessioning of the state government-built Asaba International Airport for a period of 30 years.

The Asaba airport concession bid was won by Mendis, a recognised international airport management company, which also manages big airports like the Heathrow Airport of London, he revealed, adding that the actual signing of the necessary documents to seal the deal would take place later.

Meanwhile, the state government has described as faulty and fictional the publication of the Financial Directives Company (FDC) on the state economy, asking members of the public to disregard it as it is a misrepresentation of the prevailing economic indices in the state.

In a statement yesterday in Asaba by Aniagwu, the government said the report as published by the FDC was misleading and at variance with the reality on ground.

Aniagwu also carpeted the publication in the Vanguard Newspaper by the Delta State chapter of the African Action Congress (AAC), where it alleged that based on the FDC’s report, the state had fallen under fairly-miserable states in the country.

“The Economic Confidential in its Annual States Viability Index (ASVI) report of 2018 and 2019 ranked Delta among 10 states that are economically viable having grossed a yearly IGR of not less than 20 per cent of its FAAC allocation.

“The report listed seven states in the South that recorded over 20 per cent IGR in 2018 and 2019 as Lagos, Ogun, Rivers, Edo, Enugu, Ondo and Delta States, while three states in the North-Kwara, Kano and Kaduna-fall within the same improved revenue bracket.

“The improved living condition in Delta State was further buttressed by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in its recent report where it ranked Delta as the second least poor state in Nigeria.

“The Bureau, in its latest Poverty Index Report, ranked Delta second after Lagos among the states with low poverty rate, and said 40.1 per cent of Nigeria’s total population was poor,” he stated.