By Boris Esono Nwenfor
The first-ever budgetary session of the newly created South West Regional Assembly has taken place in Buea. This session comes after the Divisional delegates and for the South West and North West House of Chiefs were installed to their function December 2020.
This budgetary session of the South West Regional Assembly supervised by Governor Bernard Okalia Bilai is taking place simultaneously like others across the national territory.
During the three days, the Regional Councillors came out with a budget of two billion seven hundred and fifty million (2,750,000,000) FCFA. This budget is expected to be financed with subvention from the state. The state has already made available FCFA 250 million to cater for some needs.
This budget is mainly focused on the implementation of activities deemed to be priorities in the operationalization of the Region at the gestation phase. 43% of the budget, one billion one hundred and eighty-five million (1,185,000,000) FCFA have been allocated for running expenses while one billion five hundred and sixty-five million (1,565,000,000) FCFA being 57% of the budget has been programmed for investment.
According to a draft budget obtained by the Median Newspaper, the priority areas for the running expenses will focus on the need to have human, material, financial resources at very short notice for the accomplishment of the mission of the South West Regional Assembly; the need to allow for the installation and the minimum functioning of the South West Regional Assembly and compliance with the quotas and ratios in the allocation of funds meant for Running expenses.
That for investment purposes will focus on the activities mainly of the governance programmed and local development some of which include the refurbishment of the headquarters building; construction of a water supply for the headquarters building; acquisition and maintenance of transport equipment; capacity building of staff in the Region; assistance and support to population and associations and a host of others.
The bi-camera session (Divisional Representatives and House of Chiefs) session also came out with standing orders of the Regional Assembly, that of the House of Chiefs and that of the Divisional Representatives. All these were examined and adopted as one document that binds both Houses.
The fields of intervention of the Regional Assembly as defined by law No. 2019/024 of 24 December 2019 concerns aspects of economic, health, social, education, sporting and cultural development, something Governor Okalia Bilai stressed to the Councillors during his opening remarks. He urged the councillors to work in that line and not to go out of their jurisdiction which will warrant him using his powers in shutting them down.
The Regional Councillors should be the first people to believe in the institution. The Regional Council which is a solution should not become a problem,” Governor Okalia Bilai told the Councillors.
“Through some of our actions, we can make it become a problem. This institution was clamoured for by the population and it is of utmost importance to decentralisation. The councillors should continue the sensitization campaign and should produce concrete results that will meet the needs of the population.”
It should be recalled that the Regional Assembly was one of the outcomes of the Major National Dialogue that sought to look for ways to end the violence in the countries North West and South West Regions. The Regional Councillors were elected in 2020 and for the case of the South West and North West Regions; there was the reintroduction of the House of Chiefs.
Ngundo Francis, Chairman of the administrative, Legal Affairs and Standing Orders Committee said everything went on smoothly during the various deliberations that were carried out.
“The budget for this year as far as I see is not for serious investment, it is meant for keeping the house in order and to put certain things in place. The budget that will carry investment that will be visible to the population will come up next year as visibility studies for some projects will be carried out.”
“It is too early to talk about the budget at the moment. What we are doing now is to implant the Regional Assembly and it is not very visible and until that is done next year investment will take place.”