Cross River: Looking towards agriculture, tourism
Cross Rivers State is hard-hit in terms of dwindling revenue from the Federation Account. The state gets between N3b and N3.5b from the Federation, but after all deductions, it has less than a billion naira, with a wage bill of about N5b to settle state civil service and the local governments.
To worsen matters the state lost Bakassi and the 13 percent derivation, though some undisclosed palliatives are paid to the state monthly.
Faced with this situation, the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor/Senior Special Assistant Media, Mr. Christian Ita said the state government was looking inwards to diversify and reduce dependence on the Federation Account.
He said: “We are more active now along the coastline taking advantage of transportation between Calabar and Equatorial Guinea and Cameroon to make some revenue. The government was able to get Federal Government’s approval by obtaining license under solid minerals. This means that if anybody comes to Cross River state to set up a quarry or build a cement factory, he will pay some money to the state.
“Secondly, the state recently registered a company to go into petroleum business of buying and selling fuel and the state is getting a vessel to that effect.
“In agriculture, we are going to become a net exporter of rice. That is why we are building the rice city in Calabar, which is basically a research centre for rice where standard quality rice will be produced. Besides, we are also encouraging the local farmers and we are building a world-class rice mill in Ogoja. The mill will also produce byproducts of rice for baby food with rich vitamins. The rice project will be up and running by end of this year.”
On Cocoa, he said: “Lots of reforms are going on and we have advertised for a processing plant to create value chain for our cocoa.”
Special Adviser to the Governor on Cocoa, Mr. Oscar Ofuka said the only means of generating revenue remains cocoa; describing cocoa is an international commodity, which present price in international market is higher than the price of crude oil. He said the state governor, Prof Ayade is passionate about the development of cocoa plantations across the state. “We want to show it to the world that we have cocoa that is of best quality and it will surprise you that people from Ondo State used to come to Cross River State to buy our cocoa and blend it with their own before it is exported.”
Tourism is another area the state invested its resources to generate revenue. For instance, the annual Calabar Carnival now attracts people from near and wide with the multiplier effect on the various sectors of the state’s economy. The carnival is now self-financing and one of the major boosters of the economy of the state
Besides, the annual carnival, the state has other tourists’ attractions, which previous administration invested on and have now become major revenue earners for the government. They include Obudu Cattle Ranch, the Marina Resort and the annual pageant.
On the state’s garment factory, the governor said it has capacity to employ over 3, 000 workers and it was set up to produce uniforms for the police and other security agents. He believed that the garment factory would not only help to reduce unemployment, but also earn the state revenue.
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