Cross River Slashes N1.1trn ‘Olympotic Meristemasis’ Budget by 91%

Ben Ayade cross river budget

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Cross River State Government has slashed its 2020 budget of N1.1 trillion by 91 per cent to N147.1 billion and sent it to the state House of Assembly for deliberations.

This was announced by the state’s Commissioner for Finance, Mr Asuquo Ekpeyong, on Monday in Calabar at a media briefing.

Mr Ekpeyong said the downward review of the budget stylised as the Budget of Olympotic Meristemasis became necessary due to the effect of COVID-19 pandemic which made the over N1 trillion naira proposed earlier by the government unrealistic.

“As we are all aware of the current pandemic ravaging the entire world, the situation has come with both health and economic challenges.

“As a state, Cross River is not in isolation; we are affected economically. We have decided to review the 2020 appropriation to tally with the present economic realities.

“We have forwarded a reviewed budget of N147, 130, 166, 966 to the State Assembly for deliberations,” Mr Ekpenyong said.

The Commissioner said that the government had also taken some far-reaching humanitarian measures to cushion the effects of the pandemic on the residents of the state.

He said the state government is also mindful of extortionist agents who still go ahead to illegally collect taxes from those exempted from paying.

He said the tax exemption policy had been put in place and an anti-taxation committee set up to implement it, adding that anyone caught violating the policy would be prosecuted.

Also speaking at the briefing, the Chairman of the state Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Mr Okpanke Ogar, said Governor Ben Ayade had approved some incentives for individual taxpayers and businesses in the state.

He highlighted some of the incentives to include, tax exemption for individuals in the public sector who earn less than N100,000 monthly.

“Others exempted are the self-employed, including artisans, hawkers, commercial motorcycle riders, taxi drivers, barbers/hairdressers and restaurant owners.

“Tourism revenue, sale of tickets by various agencies and Local governments have also been put on rebate till November,” he said.

The chairman noted that although the measures would drastically affect the revenue profile of the state for 2020, the action was in the best interest of the people.

“In 2019, we generated N22 billion, but all these taxes abating, it will surely affect our internally generated revenue for this year. But the governor has done this in the interest of the people,” Mr Ogar said.

Last year, Governor Ben Ayade had proposed to spend N1,100,167,507.09 in the 2020 financial year.

He explained that: “The budget of Olympotic Meristemasis is a budget that believes in the spiritual force which is the third energy. Meristemasis is the active growth of a young variant plant in extension, the state.

“So, olympotic as it is, Meristemastic as it is, it is also having sociological agglutination. So I believe that the budget of olympotic meristemasis would catalyse into existence, a great opportunity for us all to put our hands and legs on the paddle and speed it off.”

Cross River State was the last state to officially declare a coronavirus case in Nigeria and as at the time of this report, it has 40 cases on record, out of which nine have been discharged and three casualties.

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

more recommended stories