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What Akwa Ibom state post COVID-19 economic reconstruction committee recommended

Abasifreke Effiong

The Professor Akpan Ekpo led post COVID-19 economic reconstruction committee in Akwa Ibom state has made more than 117 recommendations to the Akwa Ibom state government.

Akwa Ibom state governor, Mr Udom Emmanuel set up the economic reconstruction committee a month ago to recommend how the state can build a viable economy after the coronavirus pandemic.

In a-142 page report made up of nine chapters, submitted to Governor Udom Emmanuel on Tuesday by the secretary of the committee, Prof Emmanuel Onwioduokit, the committee recommended the creation of a reserve fund for the state, among other things.

The committee also recommended the creation of a state economic advisory council; the recapitalisation of Akwa Savings and Loans limited, a mortgage bank owned by the state; a state bureau of statistics; investment in agriculture value chain; full autonomy for the state internal revenue service; social reorientation for the people and a no tolerance for cultism.

To reduce cost of governance, the committee recommended that the governor should reduce his number of advisers and aides.

The committee added that the state should activate quick revenue sources including carbon tax, levy on telecommunication masts, and automated vehicle license system.

The committee further recommended the completion of Ibom Science Park.

“Efforts must be made to complete the Science and Technology Park. It will create jobs, increase government revenue and would become the Silicon Valley for the nation with positive multipliers for the state.”

The committee particularly noted that crude oil which is currently the state’s highest source of revenue would not sustain the state economy in future, hence its recommended investment in agriculture, industries and services.

“The future of the state economy is without oil. Agriculture, industries and services should form the cornerstone of the state economy going forward. The Government should be commended for her efforts so far.”

“We can industrialize and diversify the state economy, create jobs, reduce poverty, have shared prosperity through the identified sectors. The real opportunities exist in expanding the value chain in agriculture. In this regard, we have suggested and made contacts with investors interested in the agricultural sector of the state.”

The report says, “to reduce the cost of governance, there is need to streamline the number of special advisers, special assistants, and personal assistants to allow for efficiency and efficacy as well as eliminate duplication with the main ministries, agencies, and departments. In the same vein, it is necessary to streamline the number of boards.”

“There is paucity of relevant data on the state. It is important to establish a State Bureau of Statics to ensure that policy pronouncements are evidence-based.”

“The State needs an Economic Advisory Council to assist in the conceptualization, formulation, and implementation of government policies. Such exercise would be evidence-based. It would not only advice government but would also serve as a think tank.

“The state should have a ‘reserve fund’ – an agreed percentage from federal allocation should be deposited into the fund to meet unforeseen circumstances as well as save for a rainy day. The fund should be invested and should have strict conditions for withdrawal.”

“The government must continue to fight cultism. The law against cultism is in order. Government must ensure that cultism is made unattractive for everyone in the state. Specifically, government should wield the big stick by prosecuting cultists, government should not appoint any known cultist into any office in the state, government officials who are known members of a cult group should be given opportunity to openly denounce or be removed from office and the reason for their removal made public”, part of the recommendations read.

Receiving the report, Governor Udom Emmanuel said his administration will implement the recommendations made by the committee and thanked its members for sharing their wealth of knowledge for the service of the state.

Meanwhile, the governor has set up a five member committee for the implementation of the recommendations of the post COVID-19 economic reconstruction committee.

The implementation committee is chaired by Prof Akpan Ekpo, with Prof Emmanuel Onwioduokit as secretary, while Dr Glory Edet, is the state executive council representative. Other members of the committee are, Mr Ime Uwah and Mr Udom Inoyo.

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