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Labour Minister criticizes bill to regulate social investment programmes

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The Minister of Labour, Employment and Productivity, Chris Ngige, has criticised a bill seeking to reorganise the National Social Investment Programmes (NSIP) of the Federal Government.

According to the minister, the current administration has done excellently well with the programmes it initiated concerning poverty alleviation.

Ngige, who was represented by Paul Okwulehie at a public hearing organised by the House Committees on Poverty Alleviation; Labour, and Productivity on the bill in Abuja on Thursday, noted that some of the objectives and responsibilities of the proposed bills would clash with those of existing ones such as the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF).

He revealed that there was duplication of functions already domiciled in the NSITF.

Meanwhile, the harmonised bill which was sponsored by the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila; Deputy Speaker, Ahmed Wase; Mansur Soro, and nine other members also proposed that the state and local governments would share the burden of the SIPs with the Federal Government.

The proposed legislation is titled, ‘A Bill for an Act to Provide a Legal Framework for Establishment of National Social Investment Programmes for the Assistance and Empowerment of the Poor and Vulnerable in Nigeria; and to Establish the National Social Investment Programmes Coordination Office within the Federal Ministry Responsible for Social Development to Manage the Implementation of the Programmes and National Social Investments Trust Fund to Alleviate Poverty among Vulnerable Nigerian Citizens through Targeted Programmes for the Aged, Infirm, Unemployed and Students.’

He continued: “You will discover that there is duplication of functions already domiciled in the NSITF. Taking it to the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs will be a duplication of that particular function.”

The Minister noted that the title of the second bill that talked about the institutional framework, which is the establishment of the Social Investment Trust Fund to alleviate poverty amongst vulnerable Nigerians, has the same citation, and so is still in conflict with the NSITF Act.

Read also: Why Nigerian govt stopped employment in civil service – Ngige

However, the Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, while declaring the hearing open, said the bill was to establish a statutory framework to ensure continuity and accountability for the NSIP.

Gbajabiamila, who was represented by the Majority Leader, Alhassan Ado-Doguwa, stated that one bill seeks to codify the National Social Investment Programmes into law and establish a framework for coordinating, implementing, monitoring, and improving those programmes.

According to him, the other seeks to establish a National Social Investment Trust Fund.

“In considering both of these legislative proposals, I expect that the stakeholders here today will give thought to the best practices worldwide and be influenced by considerations of economic and public finance realities,” he said.

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