The Gombe State Government says it is taking measures to mitigate the effect of Coronavirus Disease on the economy of the state.
Muhammad Magaji, Gombe State Commissioner of Finance and Economic Development, disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Wednesday in Gombe.
Magaji said the quick-fix measures being taken by the state government include strengthening its Internally Generated Revenue base to ensure that it meets most of its needs in terms of the aspirations of the people.
He said the state had commenced reviewing its 2020 Budget to reflect the effect of the pandemic on the economy with a view to maintaining financial discipline as allocation from the Federal Government dwindles.
He said: “For us in Gombe, we have started to look at our budget for 2020 and already in the process of reviewing it to reflect the changes that have already been adopted by the Federal Government.
“Our budget should also reflect the reality so that we capture correctly what we expect as revenue from Federal Allocation and that, of course, translates to a reduction in the overall revenues accruable to the state.
“It therefore means that we have to scale down on the budget and activities we have outlined for the year 2020,” he said.
The commissioner added that the state government had also put in place austerity measures aimed at containing the recurrent expenditures to ensure that it reduces the recurrent expenditure to the barest.
He stated part of such measures led to the suspension of the N30,000 minimum wage after due deliberation with labour leaders in the state, while also slashing the salaries of all political appointees.
Magaji said: “Last week, we had a meeting with labour and we agreed to suspend the N30,000 minimum wage.
“We have done that to enable the state pay salaries.”
Magaji said the worst days were yet to be seen, but “as a responsible government, we will try to ensure that we are able to pay salaries and meet our minimum obligations within those periods.
“All we will do is to ensure that we become very strict with our spending.
“Ensure that whenever we don’t need to spend money, we don’t.
“We begin to plan ahead for those months that will be extremely difficult.”
Magaji, however stated that though the review of the 2020 budget would affect the capital projects, but “it does not mean that some of these projects will not be undertaken.
“But it may take a longer time for the projects to come to reality.
“The lesson from the impact of the coronavirus on the nation’s economy only tells us that we need to diversify by encouraging people to move into other sectors to harness the potentials there.
“In Gombe State, we are making moves to diversify our economy and this is the reason Governor Inuwa Yahaya is passionate about the industrial park and already, we have investors.
“They want to partner with us to ensure that the project comes to fruition within a very short period.
“This will provide jobs, create more taxes for government and enhance the corporate image of the state.”
While commending the Federal Government for efforts to diversify the nation’s economy through agricultural sector, the commissioner appealed for more supports for states from the Federal Government.
“The Federal Government should assist states by suspending all the FGN intervention loans for at least a year to allow states have more money to pay salaries and undertake other obligations,” Magaji said.