By Emmanuel Kehinde, ILORIN
Kwara State Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq on Tuesday signed the 2021 Appropriation Bill into law, amid assurances that the administration will build on the ongoing infrastructural development and increased investments in social protection and youths empowerment.
He also assented to the bill repealing pension payments to former Governors and former Deputy Governors in the state following widespread support from the public when the proposal came up for public hearings at the Kwara State House of Assembly. The Governor had last year November sought the repeal of the law — both a fulfilment of his campaign promise and a response to public opposition to the pension package that many decry as unfair.
Speaker Yakubu Danladi, who led members of the House of Assembly to the brief budget signing ceremony, told the Governor that members of the public were unanimous about a need to repeal the law during the hearing.
Signing the N137.6bn appropriation bill into law, the Governor commended the House members for their hard work, adding: “This budget will build on the achievements of the previous years in the areas of education, health, and roads infrastructure. We are also focusing on youth empowerment, job creation, and social investments which are very critical at this point of our national life.”
AbdulRazaq said social protection is most important at this time to prevent more people from falling into abject poverty, commending the conditional cash transfer (CCT) initiative of President Muhammadu Buhari which is already being replicated in Kwara State.
“I was pleasantly surprised that this initiative of Mr. President is being felt in the remotest parts of the country. When I visited the communities where some women beneficiaries of the (CCT) used same to start the construction of schools, I was very happy and we thank Mr President for that. I have since refunded the money of those women and I have also approved the construction (completion) of the schools. So, we are going to continue to invest in social protection,” he said.
Yakubu-Danladi, for his part, said the budget would have huge impacts on the economy of the state especially with regards to job creation, youth empowerment, and welfare of workers.
He said the budget accommodated the minimum wage, recruitment of new teachers, and establishment of a garment factory, among other provisions, and commended the clear visions of the Governor to transform the state.
He said the passage and signing of the budget also met various requirements and deadlines of programmes that the state has keyed into, including the World Bank-assisted States Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) programme which pegs budget signing deadline at not later than January 31 of the new fiscal year.