Speaking at a quarterly session with the media in Asaba today, Okowa revealed that the virus has increased the price of oil in the international market and this has made several industries stop producing.
According to him, except quick steps are taken to curb the effects of the virus, states might be unable to pay salaries of workers very soon.
He then prayed that the current situation would not be as bad as in 2015 when the nation was really in recession.
His words, “Now that we have mass production of oil which constitutes our economy, mostly due to the fact that our oil is not being sold and oil prices have also gone down, it is obvious that each and every one of us, our states and the nation will have challenges even with execution of budgets for the year.
“At the federal level, a committee has already been set up to look into the issue of the reconsideration of the benchmark and that benchmark that will be eventually arrived at will impact on us.
“We have to be able to wait for the Federal Government to arrive at a new benchmark on the price of oil, because it is that figure that we as states will use in considering the likely revenue allocation we will be getting in the remaining months of the year.
“So, there is no doubt that our budget is likely going to be threatened and we know that any part of the threat affects more of the infrastructural development which our people desperately yearn for.”
“We have continued to do the best that we can under the very trying conditions that we are facing as a state and as a nation; we have tried to pass the 2020 budget early.
“We have tried to do our best to implement it although the events of the last few weeks have threatened the revenue of our nation which is oil.
“We have continued with the development of our roads, schools, hospitals and other programmes that have been very meaningful to our people which include the contributory health scheme, particularly for the vulnerable in our society.
“They are mainly those who are under the age of five and pregnant women; consideration is also given to widows and we hope that when things improve, we will endeavor to include the elderly and the physically-challenged.
“We have become a role model as a state and other states are coming to copy what is going on in the health insurance programme; though, we are leading the way, it still does not mean we have gotten to where we ought to be.
“At the moment, we have set the ball rolling and we are very hopeful that we continue to be very impactful on our people as over 660 people have already enrolled in the programme and we will continue to urge Deltans to avail themselves to be in the scheme.
“We are still very focused on the improvement and empowerment of our youths and women, and we are still trying to do more for them through the Job Creation Office, Ministry of Youths Development and Ministry of Women Affairs.
“This is because, as a government we must find a way to stabilize our mothers who do not have any source of livelihood so that the homes can be sustained.”
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