Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta has inaugurated the State’s Economic Council, with a charge to members to institute a strong, credible and enduring platform for diversification of the economy.
The governor, at the ceremony, in Asaba on Friday, urged the council to proffer viable alternatives, to build strong public and private partnerships.
They were also to formulate policies and practices that promote institutional transparency and accountability, including systematic disclosure of accurate and reliable financial information.
The council, headed by the Deputy Governor, Mr Kingsley Otuaro, with the Commissioner for Economic Planning, Dr. Barry Pere-Gbe as Secretary, were also expected to enhance business competitiveness.
Okowa charged the body to ensure policies that would create confidence in the investing public and provide innovative strategies for expanding the tax base and improving tax efficiency of the administration.
The governor said the council would initiate reforms aimed at strengthening public financial management systems, including budget management, mid-year budget reviews designed to align annual budgets to emerging scenarios and trends.
He said the inauguration was in line with the State Economic Planning Council Law Cap D14, Laws of Delta State 2008.
According to him, constituting the council is one of the many steps his administration is taking to build a stronger Delta.
The governor said the council had power to formulate and prepare long, medium and short term development plans for the state and local governments.
He said they could do so within the framework of the national objectives and priorities, and transmit same to the National Planning Commission.
“As with other sub-national governments and the national government, our economic situation is regrettably still fragile, depending largely on oil earnings and, therefore, vulnerable to price volatility and commodity booms and busts.
“Let me stress that we must continue to improve our credibility rating on issues concerning transparency and accountability, not only among our people, but also in the eyes of the business and investment community.
“If we are to mobilize the level of support and partnership required to actualise our stronger Delta vision, we must continue to rationalise expenditures, maximise value for money and ensure good project selection to enhance judicious allocation of resources,” Okowa said.
He recalled that the average annual growth rate of the state from 2013 to 2015 was 8.9 per cent, but that it had accelerated to an annual average of 13.2 per cent from 2015 to 2017.
“Delta did not only surpass the national average on both indices of economic development, but climbed up the rung in the rank of states, especially in the poverty-to-population ratio.
“Lagos led the chart (4.5 per cent) of prosperous states on poverty-to-population ratio followed closely by Delta (6.0 per cent).
“Delta took a leap forward both in terms of the number of people who migrated from poverty to prosperity, and those rescued from the unemployment market.
“More importantly, the economy is now well positioned to engender inclusivity and sustainable development.
“We are committed to sustaining this momentum in the Delta State Medium-Term Development Plan (2020-2023) which has been finalized and would soon be unveiled to the public.
“This second plan encapsulates the strategic imperatives of our stronger Delta mantra.
“Our goal remains to grow the economy in a manner that is rapid, inclusive, sustained and susstainable,” he said.
Responding on behalf of members of the Council, Commissioner for Finance, Chief Fidelis Tilije, commended the governor for his proactive steps at ensuring security of lives and property in the state.
He expressed confidence that the council would take the right steps to ensure that economic processes and procedures are not just established, but seen to be operational and contribute to the development of Delta.
Other members of the council are Commissioner for Trade and Investment, Chief Chika Ossai; Commissioner for Basic and Secondary Education, Chief Patrick Ukah; Commissioner for Justice, Mr Peter Mrakpor; Commissioner for Transport, Mr Oviemuno Oghoore.
The representative of the Delta State Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture (DACCIMA) and Representative of Delta State Economic Recovery Advisory Council (DERAC) and others made the council list.
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