Written by Godfrey AKON

COVID-19 donations to be spent through supplementary budget

Over N25.8 billion so far donated by the private sector Coalition Against COVID-19 would be factored into the country’s 2020 supplementary budget before utilisation.

The move follows effort by the government to ensure transparency and a request by the National Assembly that all COVID-19 donations from the private sector should be appropriated before spending.

Accordingly, the Minister of Finance, Budget and national Planning, Hajia Zainab Ahmed, has approved a framework for the use of the funds.

The framework which was developed by the office of the accountant-general of the federation, covers all public funds allocated and dedicated to the fight against COVID 19 including the Fiscal Stimulus Package.

“It also applies to all donations by corporate bodies and individuals to the Federal Government of Nigeria towards the fight against COVID 19 and the mitigation of its social and economic effects on citizens at large including donations under the Private Sector Coalition against COVID-19 (CACOVID) Fund domiciled at the CBN,” the framework says.

An online newspaper, The Cable, which sighted the document reported that the framework makes provision for the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Ahmed, to liaise with the National Assembly for the passage of the 2020 supplementary budget so the funds can be untilised.

“Disbursements of all COVID 19 Fund including those being collected directly by CBN and those domiciled with commercial banks shall be through appropriation.

“The Honourable Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning may liaise with the National Assembly for emergency passage of a supplementary budget for the utilization of COVID-19 donation based on estimated total collection for the year.

“Funds are to be appropriated directly to participating MDA and spending units like Ministry of Health, Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Nigerian Centre for Disease Control, etc rather than to an intermediary agency like the Presidential Task Force (PTF),” the framework read.

The framework says this process is to “enhance” transparency, which is more likely “when funds are spread to more MDA than when a huge amount is put under the control of a single entity”.

According to the ministry of finance, this move is to ensure transparency in the utilisation of the COVID-19 funds, in line with the yearnings of the citizenry.

“All the requirements of the Financial Transparency Policy of the Federal Government shall be complied with. All collections into the Commercial bank accounts are to be swept into FGN Sub-Recurrent Account with the CBN.

“Failure to sweep all balances within 24 hours shall be deemed a violation of the Presidential directive on TSA which shall attract sanctions,” it said.

The framework said “it is mandatory for all participating MDA to provide information on all COVID-19 Fund transactions to any member of the public – individual or corporate – under the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) within 7 days of receiving the request.

 

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