By Omon-Julius OnabuÂ inÂ Asaba
In its determination to strengthen its revenue base, the Delta State Government is streamlining strategies intended to plug leakages in the stateâ€™s internally generated revenue (IGR) as well as explore new avenues for revenue generation.
The state Commissioner for Finance, Chief David Edevbie, who disclosed this while briefing newsmen in Asaba on the activities of his ministry between January and December 2017, noted that the state was looking to generating at least N7 billion monthly from internal sources in the 2018 fiscal year.
The commissioner said that while the performance level of over 70% in IGR was an appreciable increase over the projected figure the previous year, the state had consolidated on its Central Tax System overseen by the state Board of Internal Revenue (DBIR) in order to deal with the leakages and address the problem of double taxation associated with the use of numerous consultants, which was rampant in the past.
According to Edevbie, â€œThe internally generated revenue (IGR) realised from January to December 2017 is N51, 352,398,514.95 representing a 73.18% performance when compared to the budgeted revenueÂ for the period. However, it represents an increase of 13% when compared to IGR of N45,586,142,651.63 received in the year 2016.â€
He said that the state hoped to improve on this â€œcredible performanceâ€ through the effective utilisation of the revenue board, empowered by the Delta State Internal Revenue Consolidation Law 2009 and the Personal Income Tax Act (PITA), 2011 as amended.
Although, the current Board has been able to raise monthly IGR collection from N3.2 billion to an average of N4 billion, new strategies and initiatives were being deployed â€œtowards realising a monthly revenue target of about N7 billionâ€, the finance commissioner revealed.
On the ongoing upgrading of the Asaba International Airport, Edevbie disclosed that N2.5 billion had been released to contractors handling the remedial project, Setraco Nigeria Limited, stressing that the ultimate benefits from the completed Asaba Airport was worth the five-week closure of the facility to traffic announced by the state government on Monday.
The 2017 fiscal year was â€œcertainlyÂ a difficult yearâ€ due primarily to the economic reception in the country and the drop in oil revenue following the resurgence in militant attack on oil installations in the state, which affected both the monthly revenue from the Federation Account and the Derivation Fund, the commissioner said.
Meanwhile, the state government has intensified efforts to get companies, particularly oil multinationals that relocated from Delta State allegedly due to communal crises and undue pressures, to return to the state.
Edevbie expressed optimism that based on the various measures that had been put in place in his ministry, â€œthe financial base of Delta State would continue to be strengthened through prudent management of resources and investment in viable projects while looking for new avenues of economic growth.â€
On his part, the State Commissioner for Economic Planning, Dr. Kingsley Emu, assured that communities including rural areas would be involved in the 2019 budgeting process so that the citizens would have an increased opportunity to make inputs into the budget towards the development of the state.
Emu, who said that the eight functioning units in his ministry had been restructured for better performance with the addition of the Department of Monitoring and Evaluation, adding that the Okowa administration was leaving nothing to chance to ensure that only quality projects are delivered to the people.
The State budgeting system is deliberately and strictly scientific, the commissioner stressed, saying â€œDelta State, particularly the state capital, under Okowa has been turned into a quality construction siteâ€, owing to discipline in the budgeting and expenditure processes, which ensure that overheads were cut to accommodate more people-oriented programmes.
Emu also disclosed that two pedestrian bridges would be built on the Benin-Asaba expressway in no distant future.
Emu, who was responding to questions raised on alleged abandonment of the Bonsac-Asaba Aluminum axis of the capital territory, stated that the state government had plans for every part of the territory, saying the flyovers would be sited at the Summit and Koka end of the express road, saying when completed, would help check the risk of pedestrians crossing the express road.
While affirming that more would come in due course, Dr. Emu also disclosed that the government was currently scouting for land across the express road to establish school and markets for residents of the area.
Throwing more light on the budgetary allocation to the Isoko nation, the Commissioner debunked the allegation that only one per cent provision was made, explaining that when the specific and general allocations were put together, the provision amounted to over four per cent.
Speaking on the ongoing construction of flood drains in Asaba, the Economic Planning Commissioner said that the project would last for one year but would cause some discomfort to residents and motorists, noting that the suffering would be worth it at the end.