By G9ija

The Delta Government has reiterated its readiness to efficiency harness abundant human and natural resources, towards making the state one of the best in Nigeria.

Dr Barry Gbe, the state’s Commissioner for Economic Planning, Dr Barry Gbe, disclosed this at the 2022 Citizens Budget Engagement Forum on Monday in Asaba.

He said that the government plans to achieve the target through strategic implementation of its projects and programmes in the state.

Gbe noted that submissions from the meeting would be incorporated into the 2022 budget for a proactive, efficient and more effectiveness in planning.

He explained that meeting was in continuation of the initiative of Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa’s led administration to make the state great.

“This necessitated strategic consultative engagement process with relevant stakeholders for the preparation of the budget.

”Since the government has signed an agreement with the open government partnership domiciled with the Federal Ministry of Budget and National Planning, it remained committed to transparency in the execution of its budgets,” he said.

Gbe said that the interaction would enable the government to be effective and efficient in governance, while serving as expenditure control and creating platform for information dissemination, among others.

The commissioner noted that the 2021 half year budget had suffered N40 billion revenue shortfall as a result of insufficient funds from the Federation Account.

He, however, noted that the state recorded growth in the expenditure because it responded to those challenges that came with the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

”We also recorded some increase in the personnel cost and other expenditures. This is because we responded positively and at the same time, we were proactive in handling the challenges that COVID-19 brought.

”Those expenditures were targeted at providing succor for the people of the state in order to reduce the impact of COVID-19.

”In spite of the shortfall in revenue the state government is still inaugurating projects,” he said.

On his part, the state’s Commissioner for Information, Mr Charles Aniagwu, thanked the stakeholders for the engagement and reaffirmed the commitment of the state government to providing dividends of democracy and encourage citizens’ participation in governance.

Aniagwu noted that their contributions would significantly help the government in deepening its budgeting processes, adding that their comments, remarks and observations would be channelled to the governor of the state for evaluation and consideration.

He reminded participants that they had unique roles to play in monitoring government projects in their respective communities to ensure that government’s projects were executed in line with contractual agreement.

“We are committed to allowing our people enjoy the dividends of democracy by allowing them to participate in the governance process.

“Our definition of democracy is about the people and how they participate because there is nothing like governance without budgeting.

“This is imperative because anything and everything about governance depends on how you are going to dispense the little resources you have to address the challenges of the people.

“This time we don’t just want to give it to them; we want them to tell us what they need. You will recall last year the same thing was done and to a very large extent we were able to address a whole lot of issues in our different communities.

“We are happy with the participation today and we must appreciate the Ministry of Economic Planning for being able to bring in the array of persons to the discussion today,” he said.

Earlier, the President of Value Rebirth and Empowerment Initiative, Pastor Edewor Ogedegbe, said that the citizens’ engagement would enhance transparency and accountability in the budget preparation process of the state.

He called on the various organisations and groups to come up with their priorities and contributions to achieve an all-inclusive budget that would develop the state and improve the living standard of the people.

In his remarks, the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Civic Engagement and Civil Society, Mr Rex Anighoro, called for budget line for Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) training and monitoring of the state budget.

Representatives of groups present at the event lauded the state government for the various infrastructure developments across the state and called for economic empowerment of the people.

The forum was attended by traditional rulers, Presidents-General of communities, CSOs and artisans.