As members of the House of Representatives began debate on the 2022 budget on Wednesday, there have been calls for the need to increase hazard allowance of medical doctors, prudent utilization of funds, as well as caution on the borrowing plans for the 2022 fiscal year.
Lawmakers including Chairman of the House Committee on Judiciary, Hon. Luke Onofiok, and Minority Leader, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu, among others gave the charge during debate on the general principles of the Appropriation, which President Muhammadu Buhari laid before a joint session of the National Assembly last Thursday.
In his submissions during the debate, Onofiok while applauded the N10 billion increase in the allocation for judicial officers, however called for upward review of the proposed N50 billion hazard allowance for medical doctors as part of measures toward reversing exodus of medical personnel to other countries amidst the lingering pandemic and other health challenges in Nigeria.
“Flowing from the above, there are plausible recommendations by the FG in the 2022 proposals which my constituents have asked me to share and then appreciate, and look at it and commend it. “One of them is the provision of about 50 billion for hazard allowance for medical personnel. We would recall that as part of the issues that led the medical personnel to go on strike is the hazard allowances which were not paid and even as of now those hazard allowances are quite very minimal”, he stated, citing other proposals he wanted some adjustments on.
“The increase of statutory transfer by 10 billion to the National Judicial Council to take up the judiciary is quite commendable”, he said.
On his part, the Minority Leader, Elumelu underscored the need for the House to ensure that all its standing committees collate the list of erring Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) that fail to implement capital projects despite fund releases of about 70 percent in the 2020 Appropriation Act.
Chairman of the Committee on Works, Kabir Abubakar, also stressed the need for Standing Committees to investigate how money allocated to various intervention programmes were utilized, and the need for upward review of proposed fund for road projects, adding that the Ministry of Works is currently having N640 billion worth of outstanding certificates against the N280 billion proposed for roads in the 2022 budget estimates, saying “we need about N500 billion for the road sector”.
Several other members who spoke during the debate, urged MDAs to ensure implementation of budget reflect gender responsive programmes, review procurement processes with a view to avoid late implementation of the budget, avoid diversion of funds released and ensure prudence during execution of the budget, before Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila brought the Day-1 debate toa close, announcing that the process continues today (Thursday), after which votes will be taken on its second reading.