The Federal Government has sought the approval of the National Assembly for an intervention fund to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed met with NASS leadership on Saturday over an Executive proposal to establish a N500 billion COVID-19 Crisis Intervention Fund.
Zainab, with senior officials from her ministry, held the meeting with the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.
The meeting which held at the National Assembly was also attended by the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, Deputy Speaker of the House, Idris Wase and some other principal officers from both chambers.
According to a statement issued by the Special Adviser to the Senate President on Media, Ola Awoniyi, the meeting was a follow-up to one held last week Wednesday between the National Assembly leadership and members of the Presidential Committee which was set up for the management of the COVID-19 crisis.
“What we are proposing is an establishment of a N500 billion COVID-19 Crisis Intervention Fund.
“This Fund that we are proposing, that should be created, will involve mopping up resources from various special accounts that the government, as well as the Federation, have, to be able to pull this N500 billion,” Zainab said.
Speaking further, the Minister said in addition to the identified special accounts from where the money will be drawn as loans, the proposed intervention fund is also expected to be sourced from grants being expected and loans from multilateral institutions.
“Our general view is that this crisis intervention fund is to be utilised to upgrade healthcare facilities as earlier identified.
“The Federal Government also needs to be in a position to improve health care facilities not only in the states but to provide intervention to the states,” she stated.
Zainab explained to the lawmakers that the fund if approved, will also take care of special public work programmes currently being implemented by the National Directorate of Employment (NDE).
On his part, the Senate President said the meeting was in fulfilment of an earlier promise to provide support as the need arises in this time of crisis.
“I think coming to us for those loans is critical because we are in an emergency and time is of the essence. So, we must work as expeditiously as possible to ensure that we place the request before the National Assembly.
“I think the time has come for us to redefine the implementation of the Social Intervention programme, probably going out to communities to give them N20,000 per person might not be the best way to go. It is still an effort, but I think we need a better approach that will be more efficient,” Lawan said.