Federal National Council passes 2014-15 closing account bills

Two draft laws were approved in the presence of Obaid Humaid Al Tayer, Minister of State for Financial Affairs

Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Members of the Federal National Council on Tuesday passed the 2014 and 2015 end-of-year closing account bills.

The two draft laws were approved in the presence of Obaid Humaid Al Tayer, Minister of State for Financial Affairs.

In October, the UAE Cabinet approved the Dh248 billion federal budget for the next five years, with a prime focus on education, social development and health.

The budget for next year was set at Dh48.7 billion, a slight increase from this year’s Dh48.57 billion, which also focused on social development, education and health.

The largest portion in the 2017 budget, around Dh25.2 billion, is dedicated to sectors affecting the lives of citizens.

About 20.5 per cent of the 2017 budget, or Dh10.2 billion, has been earmarked for the education sector, 8.6 per cent or Dh4.2 billion for the health-care sector, 8.2 per cent or Dh4 billion for public sector wages, 6.6 per cent or Dh3.2 billion for social development and 3.3 per cent or Dh1.6 billion for housing.

Upset with laws issued

Members of the House, however, expressed their discontent over issuance of a number of laws through decrees without passing them through the council.

Afra Al Basti, a member from Dubai, said we have not reviewed these laws “and there were articles which we totally rejected, while other positive clauses were incomplete”.

Al Basti added there should be another option available for the House. “We members might be required not to go on summer break, but it is unacceptable that the government precedes us by 15 laws,” she added.

“Members of the House wish to be engaged in discussions of the laws so that we can present our recommendations to the government. Certain decrees set up authorities for education and health services, so what are three education ministries and a ministry of health doing? If a minister is unable to deliver, will a director of an authority be able to do so?” Al Basti asked.

The laws by decree have been issued as per article four of the constitution, which allows the issuing of a law during the absence of the House.

Hamad Al Rahoumi, a member from Dubai, said the government has a right to issue laws through decrees, “but some of these laws were not so urgent. They are of interest to the people and we should have discussed them before they are issued. In case a law is urgent, we totally support the government and may double our effort to keep abreast with it,” Al Rahoumi said.

Ali Jasem, veteran member of the House from Umm Al Quwain, said the government has a right to issue laws through decrees — whether these laws are urgent or not. “This has to do with certain strategies and priorities.”

Dr Amal Al Qubaisi, FNC Speaker, said the House had been very cooperative with urgent requests to revise laws, stressing the council’s right to review laws before they are enforced. “The House did not fail to deliver, especially in its legislative role, we could have held extraordinary sessions to review these laws,” Al Qubaisi said.

The House eventually decided to refer some 15 laws, issued in its absence to committees, which will review these laws and present their recommendations to the government.