FG seeks approval of N500bn intervention fund from the National Assembly, through the Ministry of Finance, on Saturday approached the National Assembly with an executive plan to set up a N500bn COVID-19 Crisis Management Fund to encounter it.
Mrs Zainab Ahmed, Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, led the Federal Government team that met with Senate President Ahmad Lawan and House of Representatives Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila to sort out the modalities.
The meeting was held at the National Assembly, according to a statement from the Senate President’s Office, by the finance minister along with senior ministry officials. The meeting also included the Deputy Senate president, Ovie Omo-Agege, Deputy Speaker, Idris Wase, and several other senior officers from both houses.
The finance minister said, “What we are proposing is an establishment of a N500bn COVID-19 Crisis Intervention Fund.
“This fund will involve mopping up resources from various special accounts that the government has, to be able to pull this N500bn.
“Our general view is that this crisis intervention fund is to be utilised to upgrade health care facilities as earlier identified.
“The Federal Government also needs to be in a position to improve health care facilities and provide intervention for the states.
“We know that there will be a need for the parliament to agree and approve the taking of loans from these special accounts and we will be coming back with a proposed bill in that regard that will define what the fund will be used for.”
The minister said that besides the special accounts established from which the money would be drawn as loans, it was also planned that the proposed intervention fund would be funded from the grants received from multilateral institutions.
She told the legislators that if funded, the fund would take care of specific public work initiatives currently being implemented by the National Directorate of Employment.
In the Senate President remarks, he said the meeting was in fulfilment of an earlier promise to provide support as the need arose in this time of crisis.
The Senate President Ahmed Lawan said, “Just like we told Nigerians, when there is a need for us to meet or to take a legislative action in support of ensuring that the government responds appropriately to developmental issues and challenges in the country, we will do so.
“This meeting, the second in the series after we shut down the National Assembly for two weeks, is a clear testimony of what we have said.
“Governance requires that we work together, so we want to listen to those things that you have on your side and how we can play our constitutional role in ensuring that Nigerians continue to benefit from governance and how we are able to weather the storm created by COVID-19.
“Going forward, we need to interact more because very fundamental decisions will need to be taken and these decisions can only be said to be constitutionally legal if the legislature gives its stamp of authority for the executive to implement and execute.
“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 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.”