The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning; Zainab Ahmed, on Saturday, April 4; met with the leadership of the National Assembly to intimate it on an Executive proposal to establish a N500 billion Coronavirus Crisis Intervention Fund.
Ola Awoniyi, the Special Adviser to the President of Senate; Ahmad Lawan, in a statement said that the minister held the meeting with the President of the Senate and senior officials of the ministry; at the National Assembly Complex in the Federal Capital Territory.
Also in attendance were the Speaker of the House of Representatives; Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, Deputy President of the Senate, Sen. Ovie Omo-Agege; Deputy Speaker, Idris Wase, and some principal officers of both Chambers.
The meeting is a follow-up to another one held on March 25 between the National Assembly leadership and members of the Presidential Committee set up for the management of the Coronavirus crisis.
“What we are proposing is the establishment of a N500 billion COVID-19 Crisis Intervention Fund.
“This Fund that we are proposing 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,” the minister said.
Ahmed added that in addition to the identified special accounts from where the money would be drawn as loans, the proposed intervention fund would also 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 said.
Ahmed explained to 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 (NDE).
“We know that there will be a need for the parliament to agree and approve the taking of loans from these special accounts; 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.
Earlier 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.