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Published On: Wed, Jul 16th, 2014

Social Housing Bill suffers set back in Senate

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The Social Housing Bill 2014 suffered a major setback on floor of the Senate recently when a senator noted that recommendations made by the committee for funding of the bill were unconstitutional.

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Housing and Urban Planning, Bukar Abba Ibrahim (APC-Yobe), while presenting the report, said that funding for construction of the proposed houses should be sourced from the Federation Account and Ecological Fund.

Ibrahim had told the senate that the committee could not think of any other means of raising funds to ensure implementation of the bill which was to provide housing to low and medium income earners.

He said this was why the committee came back to the senate for help in getting reliable sources of funding.

Sen. Ita Enang (PDP-Akwa Ibom), however, said the recommendations were unconstitutional.

“We can make laws over only the portion of money that goes to the Federal Government and not that of the states and local governments.

“On the recommendation of not less than one per cent of the federal government’s tshare of the ecological fund, my submission is that ecological fund is to be used for ecological purposes.

“Social housing is not an ecological problem”, he said.

Sen. Ayogu Eze (PDP-Enugu State) suggested that since funding was becoming a major problem, there was need for the constitution to be amended to provide funding for the bill.

“The Constitution Review Committee should look into this because we need to make it in such a way that we have a constitutional way of funding this scheme.

“This is a very important bill because it seeks to provide affordable housing to low income earners, and so, we must do everything possible to give it oxygen.’’

Sen. Chris Anyanwu (APGA-Imo) also supported the proposal to amend the constitution in order to provide funding for not only the social housing bill but other important bills not implemented due to funding problem.

The Senate President, David Mark, said the bill was very important, but that there was need to evolve genuine means of raising funds to support it.

“The first step to get this bill is to amend the constitution because I think at the moment, we are still stuck and unless we are able to come up with some ingenuity, we cannot make progress.

“We want this bill to be passed as quickly as possible but we must be practical and realistic’’, Mark said.

The bill was therefore stood down and referred to the committees on Constitution Review, Judiciary and National Planning for further legislative work.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the bill had scaled second reading and had been referred to the committee on Housing and Urban Planning.

NAN also reports that the listing of the bill on Tuesday’s order paper was for the report of the committee to be considered and the bill passed into law. But this was not to be. (NAN)

 

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