The Ebonyi State Government has held a Citizens’ Inputs/Consultation on the 2021 Budget with most stakeholders calling for employment into the State Civil Service as well as enhanced welfare for workers.
The event, organised by the State Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, was held at the International Conference Centre, Abakaliki on Tuesday.
Recall that since May 2015 when Umahi assumed office as Governor, there has not been any employment into the State Civil and Public Service, except few number of girls engaged in Government House Protocol Unit and the Ebonyi State Broadcasting Corporation.
The Governor had at several public fora stated that employment into the Civil Service was not in his priority because, according to him, the Civil servants have no job to do.
In his input at the event, the State Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Leonard Nkah, appealed to the state government to increase the personnel costs captured in the proposed 2021 Budget from the present 13 per cent to 23 per cent.
Nkah noted that the increment would enhance the welfare of workers and others in the state’s employ, adding that it was implementable.
“Workers would definitely appreciate this gesture as nine per cent, for instance, can be withdrawn from sectors which have 59 per cent of the budgetary provision, and infused into personnel cost,” he said.
Others who spoke, including the State Chairman, Trade Union Congress, Michael Nwonu; Representatives of the youths; and Civil Society organisations, called on the government to make provision for employment into the State Civil and Public Services in the budget.
The State Head of Service, Chamberlain Nwele, in his response noted that the state government was always responsive to workers’ needs.
Nwele explained that the State Government has been diligent in payment of workers’ salary in the State in spite of the adverse effect of COVID-19.
He further argued that the Finance Ministry took into consideration the promotion of workers and aptly captured it under the personnel costs in its proposals.
Governor David Umahi, represented at the event by his Deputy, Dr. Kelechi Igwe, in his concluding remarks noted that the 2021 Budget proposal was implementable and would put the state in the path of growth, development, becoming a source of pride for the people.
He urged citizens to make the necessary sacrifices by paying their taxes to enable the accomplishment of the budget, pledging that the government would continue to give them quality leadership.
Igwe said: “We decided to consult the citizens for their inputs to be integrated into a financial language by the Finance Ministry and sent to the state House of Assembly,
“I stand in the seat of the Governor to guarantee that all you have said would be factored into the budget.”
Earlier, the State Commissioner for Finance, Orlando Nweze, explained that the proposed 2021 Budget estimate would meet the aspirations of the people and enhance the people’s welfare.
Nweze presented the government proposal of the sum of over N120 billion for the 2021 fiscal year.
Recall that the inclusion of Citizens’ input was recently introduced by the Central Bank of Nigeria as a vital component of the budgeting process.