The Federal Government has been urged to allocate 40 per cent of the 2018 budget to capital projects in order to boost development in critical sectors of the economy.
The Centre for Social Justice and the United States Agency for International Development stated this in a report on the Health Sector Medium-Term Strategies for the 2018-2020 fiscal periods.
The Lead Director, CSJ, Mr. Eze Onyekpere, who presented the report in Abuja on Monday, also called on the Federal Government to allocate 15 per cent of the annual budget to the health sector so as to reduce the high rate of medical tourism in the country.
He said there was also a need to amend the National Health Insurance Scheme Act to make health insurance compulsory and universal, adding that this would enable the government to generate more funding for the health sector.
He said while the improvement in the macroeconomic situation of the country had been minimal, there was a need for increased investment in health as doing otherwise might further worsen the national health and economic indices.
He said, “Current health indices in Nigeria should be the basis of a robust investment plan in the MTSS anchored on the macroeconomic realities of the country.
“Government should allocate 15 per cent of the total annual national budget to the health sector in compliance with the Abuja Declaration of 2001. Where not possible, start with a minimum of 7.5 per cent allocation in 2018 and progressively increase by 1.5 per cent until the 15 per cent is attained by 2023.
“The bulk of the new resources should go to capital expenditure to enhance access to equipment and health supporting infrastructure. At least, not less than 40 per cent of the allocation should go to capital expenditure in 2018 and progressively increasing in subsequent years.
“As stipulated in the National Health Act 2014, in particular, allocate not less than one per cent of the Consolidated Revenue Fund to the Basic Health Care Provision Fund in the 2018 budget and beyond.
“To generate more funding for the health sector, amend the National Health Insurance Scheme Act to make health insurance compulsory and universal. Consider new sources for health insurance funding to include a two per cent surcharge on all imports, a special tax on alcohol and tobacco and minimal tariffs on telecommunications services to be borne by the consumer.”
He also called on the government to consider the establishment of a health bank to provide single-digit long-term loans for the development of health institutions, health infrastructure, research and human resources for health.
The initial capital, he , was to be subscribed by the FGN with an invitation to regional and international development institutions to subscribe to the authorizsed capital.
Onyekpere said while steps were being taken to establish the health bank, the government should also consider a special window of funding the health sector.
This, he added, should be established through administrative action by institutions such as the Central Bank of Nigeria, which had provided similar long-term and bailout funds in the past.