The federal government has sought the approval of the national assembly for a N500 billion coronavirus intervention fund.
The government made the request when Zainab Ahmed, minister of finance, budget and national planning, met with the leadership of the legislative chamber in Abuja on Saturday.
Ahmed informed the lawmakers of the government’s decision to establish the crisis intervention fund to cushion the effect of the pandemic.
A statement from Ola Awoniyi, spokesman to Senate President Ahmad Lawan, quoted the minister as saying the funds will be sourced from various government accounts, in addition to government grants and loans.
“What we are proposing is an establisment of a N500 billion COVID-19 Crisis Intervention Fund,” she was quoted as saying.
“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.
“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.
“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.”
Lawan said such fund would be critical in the face of the pandemic, adding that there is the need to fast-track the process.
“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,” Lawan said.
Billions of naira have already been pledged to the federal government by various organisations and individuals to help manage the health crisis.
So far, Nigeria has recorded 209 coronavirus cases, 25 recoveries and four deaths.