Reps reconvene, assure citizens on 2017 budget, end to recession
• House rejects bill to set up surgeon-general’s office
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara has reiterated the commitment of the lawmakers to tackling the economic recession this year.
Dogara, in his welcome address at the House’s resumption from the Christmas and New Year recess, yesterday, pledged to avoid the pitfalls of last year’s budget by ensuring the transparent deliberation and passage of the 2017 budget.
According to Dogara, the pending 2017 Appropriation Bill deserves immediate attention of the House. The speaker maintained that the task of reviving the economy remains the central focus of the House too.
He assured that critical bills designed to stimulate the economy such as the Public Procurement Act amendment, Federal Competition Bill; Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) and others would receive expeditious consideration.
“Measures to exit Nigeria from recession must be the critical aspect of our legislative activities this year. The 2017 budget remains the major vehicle to rejig our economy. This is in addition to other fiscal and monetary policies,” he said.
At yesterday’s sitting too, the lawmakers, through a voice vote discarded a bill to set up an office of surgeon-general of the federation.
The bill, according to Abiodun Dada Awoleye, APC, Oyo, the sponsor, was intended to legalise the establishment of the office that would advise the president, ministers of health and the legislature on matters of health.
The office, Awoleye said, would further provide health information and health policy analysis, as well as conduct advocacy campaigns on public health matters and generate data for the planning and implementation of intervention over any public health issues.
During the debate, Ossai Nicholas Ossai, PDP, Delta, who was the first to criticise the bill, said the health ministry was currently generating data of all health plans, implementation and impact levels, and warned against raising tensions and acrimony in the sector.
Johnson Agbonayima (PDP, Edo) opposed the bill for its timing. He said the country was at the moment going through financial difficulties, hence needless to consider the establishment of additional agency that would require financing.