FG PLANS 40% BUDGET ON INFRASTRUCTURE PUAH OMOKHUALE The federal government of Nigeria, (FG) has been urged to include a 40 per cent allocation in the 2018 budget as capital projects so as to boost development in the critical sectors of the economy. This statement was included in the report presented by The Lead Director, CSJ, Mr. Eze Onyekpere, in Abuja on Monday. He also called on the FG to allocate a 15 per cent of the annual budget to the health sector in order to reduce the high rate of medical tourism in Nigeria. This was stated by the Centre for Social Justice and the United States Agency for International Development, in a report on the Health Sector Medium-Term Strategies for the 2018-2020 fiscal periods. According to Mr. Onyekpere, there is a need to amend the National Health Insurance Scheme Act to make health insurance compulsory and universal, so as to help the government generate more funds in the health sector. He added that while the improvement in the macro economic situation in Nigeria seems to be reducing, there is a need to increase the health’s investment to avoid worsening the national health and economic indices. He also said in his voice “the current Nigeria’s health indices should be pillars of a robust investment plan in the MTSS, anchored on the macroeconomic standard f the country. “The 15 percent of the total annual budget that should be allocated to the health sector should be in alliance with the Abuja Declaration of 2001. If the 15percent deal does not seem so possible, we could start with a minimum of 7.5 per cent allocation in 2018 and gradually increase by 1.5 percent until the 15 percent is attained in 2023. “The bulk of the new resources should be allocated to the capital expenditure, so as to enhance access of equipment and health infrastructures. The plan is that nothing less than 40 percent of the allocation should go to capital expenditure in 2018 and highly increasing in subsequent years. “Just as stipulated in the National Health Act, 2014; Not less than one percent of the consolidated revenue fund should be allocated to the Basic Care Provision Fund in the 2018 budget and beyond. “in generating more funding for the health sector, the National Health Insurance Scheme Act ought to be adjusted to make health insurance universally compulsory and also consider new sources for health insurance funding that will include two percent surcharge on all imports, a special tax on tobacco , alcohol and smaller tariffs on telecommunications services to be borne by the consumer”. Mr. Onyekpere called on the government to help consider establishing a health bank to provide single-digit long term loans, in order to develop health institutions, infrastructure, research and human resources for the health sector. He added, saying that while steps are been taken to establish the health bank, the government have to consider special ways of funding the health which should be established through administrative actions.