Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa have called for strong collaboration among the three tiers of government in the fight against poverty in the country.
Speaking at the 18th Joint Planning Board and National Council on Development Planning meeting in Asaba, yesterday, Osinbajo said synergy among federal, state and local governments was imperative so that citizens could be productively engaged and lifted out of poverty.
While urging states in the county to improve on tax administration and widen tax nets to make it easier for people to pay taxes and spur development, he scored organisers high for the theme of the meeting, ‘State Fiscal Sustainability and Economic Diversification in Nigeria,’ which he said was timely and at the core of governance at all levels.
He further stated: “Over the years, the level of funding at the Federal Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) has fluctuated and federal revenue, including annual internally-generated revenue cannot meet the needed development in the states.
“So, states must overcome these fiscal challenges they face by engaging in fiscal strategic planning and identify areas they have comparative advantages.
“They should also take advantage of the entrepreneural skills of Nigerians by empowering economic clusters of small businesses with infrastructure, tools and equipment.”
On his part, Okowa said it was imperative for state chief executives to imbibe the culture of fiscal discipline, pointing out that without such, there could be no fiscal sustainability.
He stated that observation of fiscal rules was the first step to achieving fiscal sustainability, adding that annual budgets of states must be derived from the Fiscal Strategy Paper, in line with Fiscal Responsibility Law.
“In Delta State, we have adhered strictly to this law and all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) are required to align their projects and programmes with available resources in short, medium and long-term. This will eliminate deficit and restore the health of our public finances.
“ We have kept the size of the budget realistic and realisable, while projects are embarked upon based on their economic and social value. It is a continuous exercise to match our expenditure commitments to projects with existing revenue streams,” he said.
The governor added that residents of the state were “imbibing the principles of skills acquisition and entrepreneurship as a viable employment option based on our entrepreneurship programmes…,” he stated.
“They are now looking beyond and outside their academic certificates for employment and livelihoods as owners and managers of skills-based enterprises.
“This cuts across all segments of society- unemployed youths, workers, micro, small and medium enterprises, pensioners, widows, Persons with Disabilities (PwDs), students, traders and farmers,” he stated.