The Federal Government has on Saturday reached out to the National Assembly with an Executive Proposal to establish a N500 billion COVID-19 Crisis Intervention Fund.
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed met with the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, to work out the modalities.
According to a release from the Office of the Senate President, the finance minister along with senior officials from the ministry held the meeting at the National Assembly.
The meeting was also attended by the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege; Deputy Speaker, Idris Wase, and some other principal officers from both chambers.
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.
The finance minister said, “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 N500billion.
She explained that the general view of the crisis intervention fund is to be utilised to upgrade healthcare facilities and to provide intervention to the states.
According to the minister, The Federal Government also know that there will be a need for the parliament to agree and approve the taking of loans from these special accounts and will be coming back with a proposed bill in that regard that will define what the fund will be used for.
Mrs Ahmed said that in addition to the identified special accounts from where the money would be drawn as loans, the proposed intervention fund is also expected to be sourced from grants being expected and loans from multilateral institutions.
She told the lawmakers that the Fund, if approved, would also take care of special Public Work Programmes currently being implemented by the National Directorate of Employment.
In his remarks, 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.
Lawan said, “Just like we told Nigerians when there is need for us to meet or to take legislative action in support of ensuring that the government responds appropriately to developments issues and challenges in the country, we will do so.
“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.
The Senate President noted that the time has come to redefine the implementation of the Intervention Programme.
Probably going out to give N20,000 per person might not be the best way to go about, it was an effort that need a better approach that will be more efficient, he added.