EDO: Frugal Spending,IGR To The Rescue
THE dwindling revenue from oil and reduction in monthly allocation, like in many other states of the federation, has affected governance in Edo State, especially in the areas of infrastructural development and payment of workers’ salaries.
However, the government of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole has responded positively, by repositioning the Board of Internal Revenue, which was recently renamed Edo State Internal Revenue Service (EIRS). In less than two years, the board has increased the state’s IGR from a paltry N250 to N300 million monthly to about N1.5 billion, in fact, at a point, it reached N2.2 billion.
As a way of sustaining the process, the EIRS hase reinvigorated its efforts to pursue various tax polices including personal income tax popularly called PAYE (Pay As You Earn), Witholding Tax, Stamp Tax, Consumer tax and a proposed Indirect Tax to shore up the revenue of the state.
The state government has, through reduced spending, including recent suspension of lunch during the weekly meeting of the state executive council, suspension of allowances to commissioners and other political appointees, continued to meet its basic responsibilities of paying salaries of workers and pensioners.
The state chairman of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP), Comrade Ikponmwosa Omoragbon, told The Guardian on Friday that the state government has been paying their monthly pensions regularly. “It was only last month that we experienced delay. We only got our pension last week,” he said.
Civil servants have also been getting their salaries, because government has always made workers pay a priority. The Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Louis Odion, confirmed the state of finances in the state.
“To say things are hard is really an understatement, you will recall that when we passed our 2015 budget last year, we had used $78 per barrel as the benchmark for the budget that we planned, but as I speak to you today, oil price has gone below $50 meaning that the benchmark for that budget is no longer realistic and technically, the budget is no longer workable. Things are really bad.
“The only saving grace is that until now, we have been able to up our IGR, which is why we are able to cushion the shortfall we are witnessing from Abuja; we are able to augment to an extent with our IGR to just pay salaries and pensions.
“In fact, sometimes last week, refreshment that is usually served at exco has been suspended just to save cost. That is the kind of belt tightening that we are used to, and the governor had always said, even at the best of times, when oil was still high, that Edo commissioners are the least paid in the country. If you go elsewhere, you could probably see a commissioner with up to two to four cars attached to them, but in Edo State you have only one car and the car you have, you fuel and maintain it yourself, so, for us the challenge is continue to look inwards to see how we can save additional naira, additional kobo to keep the state moving.”
He, however, said government is still managing to work. “About three weeks ago, we flagged off erosion control project at Auchi and Queen Ede, which has been on for decades. That project is costing us over N7 billion, we got some assistance from the World Bank, which also requires us to match their grant with our contribution. So, as I speak to you, the contractors are working and within Benin City, we have contractors working in many locations. We have been able to sustain them because Comrade insists that should be priority. As I speak to you, allowances that Commissioners use to get, Basic Travelling Allowance, everything has been frozen just to ensure that we continue to sustain our contractors at the various sites,” the commissioner insisted.
To say things are hard is really an understatement, you will recall that when we passed our 2015 budget last year, we had used $78 per barrel as the benchmark for the budget that we planned, but as I speak to you today, oil price has gone below $50 meaning that the benchmark for that budget is no longer realistic and technically, the budget is no longer workable. Things are really bad.