The federal government met with leaders of the national assembly to seek a loan approval of N500 billion intervention fund to fight coronavirus pandemic in the country.
Finance Minister, Zainab Ahmed, led the federal government’s team on Saturday that met with the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, to work out the modalities.
Ahmed said the intervention fund will be used to upgrade and improve healthcare facilities and to provide intervention to the states.
She said the proposed intervention fund is expected to be sourced from various special accounts that the government, as well as the federation. Others are grants being expected and loans from multilateral institutions.
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.
“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.”
She explained to the lawmakers that the fund, if approved, would take care of special Public Work programmes currently being implemented by the National Directorate of Employment NDE.
In his remarks, the Senate President said the meeting was in fulfillment of an earlier promise to provide support as the need arises in this time of crisis.
“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. Lawan said.
He added: “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 the 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.”
Also in attendance at the meeting were Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege; Deputy Speaker, Idris Wase, and some other principal officers from both chambers.
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