“To be?” or “Not to be?”
“Would President Mohammadu Buhari assent to the National Housing Fund (Establishment) Bill, 2018?
That was the question on the lips of the Nigerian masses as they awaited the President’s verdict on the National Housing Fund (Establishment) Bill, 2018 at the Senate’s plenary session of April 2, 2019.
The National Housing Fund (Establishment) Bill, 2018 sparked lots of debate among stakeholders in the economy for three reasons. First, the scope of employees’ contribution to the national housing fund (NHF) increased from basic salary to gross salary. Second, banks, insurance companies, and pension fund administrators were expected to contribute 10% of their profit before tax. Third, cement manufacturers and importers were expected to pay a levy of 2.5% on cement. Overall, the impact of the proposed bill seemed to be punitive to players in the cement, manufacturing, banking, insurance, and pension industry as well as the average Nigerian worker and the Nigerian economy. It was, therefore, a huge relief to learn that President Mohammadu Buhari refused to append his signature on the NHF (Establishment) Bill, 2018. Besides this bill, the President rejected seven other bills. They include; Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria Bill, 2018; Ajaokuta Steel Company Completion Fund Bill, 2018; Chartered Institute of Training and Development of Nigeria Bill, 2018; Nigeria Aeronautic Research and Rescue Bill, 2018; National Institute of Credit Administration Bill, 2018; National Biotechnology Development Agency Bill, 2018; and Small and Medium Entrepreneurship Development Agency Bill, 2018.
The President’s decision has certainly saved the economy from a regressive policy, but it may not necessarily mark the end of reforms for NHF. If the National Assembly intends to pass another NHF Bill in the future, it must, first, address the shortcomings of the 2018 Bill. Furthermore, there should be proper consultation with key stakeholders in the economy and experts from the onset. The conversation starts now!
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