By Angela Aatabo
Agba revealed this during the COVID-19 Transparency and Accountability Project (CTAP) conference organized by Connected Development (CODE) in partnership with the civil society organization BudgIT in Abuja.
According to Agba, of the $ 500 billion in COVID-19 funds, $ 288 billion has been released to implementing agencies to support programs and the federal government, while the ministry is currently in the process of releasing additional funds to ministries, departments and agencies (MDA).
“The total package includes, in the budget, 500 billion naira of stimulus from a special account of the federal government and 1.8 trillion naira through financial institutions.
“Of the 500 billion naira in the revised 2020 budget, 126 billion is planned to strengthen the resilience of the health system in Nigeria to avoid possible loss of human life.
“The government has set out to improve health infrastructure by building molecular laboratories in 52 federal medical centers and teaching hospitals across the country.
“ Others include the provision of isolation centers, the payment of a risk allowance for healthcare professionals, the provision of personal protective equipment to security agencies and hospitals to continue their operations. by supporting agencies such as NCDC, NAFDAC, among others, to play their role in the fight against this pandemic.
Agba said a total of 522 intensive care beds have been provided, or 10 intensive care beds in each of 52 federal medical centers and teaching hospitals across the country.
He said the federal government had also taken steps to help states respond to the pandemic, adding that initially 50 percent of the $ 500 billion had been turned over to the various responsible agencies.
He added that each of the 36 states, including the CTF, had received one billion naira to help fight COVID-19, with the exception of Lagos which got 10 billion and Kano which got 5 billion in because of their population.
“Most MDAs received at least 50 percent of the project budget, such as the Ministry of Agriculture which has 34 billion naira as budget for rural roads received 50 percent of that amount and 50 percent of the amount. for land preparation which is 1.25 billion naira.
“The rural mass electrification and solar energy strategy has released 6.2 billion naira. FERMA received 30 billion for bridges and main roads, the Ministry of Trade and Investment got 75 billion naira for MSMEs, while federal medical centers with a budget of about 49 billion cent of this amount allocated. ”
Agba said the government also suspended all loan repayments from various state governments, which included repayment of the loan principal and accrued interest.
He said it was to stimulate the economy and prevent job loss, adding that the plan included supporting micro-small and medium-sized businesses through survival funds.
He said this provision included an MSME-guaranteed adoption simulation program that was to maintain 300,000 jobs in 100,000 MSMEs by generating adoption and priority products, expanding payroll support and establishing installations in the six geopolitical zones.
He said that the establishment of the MSME Survival Fund should also support 700,000 jobs in 140,000 MSMEs and 1,500 self-employed workers through grants in the six geopolitical zones.
Agba said the government has also provided more than 12 billion rural electrification and mass solar power and 60 billion naira for road construction and rehabilitation across the country.
He added that the public works programs have recruited 1,000 people per local government for the 36 states and that the CTF has resulted in the employment of 774,000 people.
He said the president had led the disbursement of the COVID-19 cash transfer to 1 million additional households under social intervention programs to protect vulnerable people, adding that the register was being updated. with new households before disbursement.
He said there were provisions for the aviation sector with support for local airlines as well as other aviation activities and also provisions for post COVID job creation programs for youth and workers. women.
Agba said there were provisions aimed at the agricultural sector to ensure food and employment security and to achieve this, government plans included mapping farms and registering farmers, sampling sites and the creation of access roads to markets, among others.
He said this has taken the form of building more than 300 roads through 266 farming communities for access.
Agba has also taken the time to clarify some misconceptions about Nigeria’s stimulus response to COVID-19.
“It is not true that Nigeria received $ 5.6 billion in donations for COVID-19, you know the pandemic impacted the global oil market, which reduced Nigeria’s income by about 57%. % due to the fall in the price of oil.
“Nigeria got these $ 5.6 billion loans from the World Bank, IMF, Islamic Development Bank, and African Development Bank as budget funding for the shortfall, so it wasn’t no donations.
“The 2.3 trillion stimulus package includes the 500 billion naira in the federal government’s special account in the 2020 reversed budget and 1.8 trillion naira through CBN interventions to the private sector to stimulate the economy.
“So the $ 1.8 trillion is not money going to MDAs, it is going to the private sector. ”
Agba said other in-kind donations, received by the federal government, included personal protective equipment, test kits and 200 ventilations as bilateral support.
He said the president approved the release of 70,000 tons of food from the Federal Strategic Grain Reserve and that it has been distributed to state governments as a stopgap for distribution to citizens.
He therefore said that it should not be said that the federal government was involved in the hoarding of palliatives.
Agba said the federal government has ensured that several accountability mechanisms are in place to ensure the proper use of these funds and that an app is being developed to help citizens stay on top of the use of these funds.
CODE Managing Director Hamzat Lawal said the conference was organized in partnership with BudgiT, to put the torch on the role of state actors, stakeholders, civil society organizations and citizens in the accountability process. COVID-19 intervention funds.
Lawal said CSOs were very concerned about spending knowing there was a drop in revenue and knowing there was an increase in unemployment.
He said the data revealed that there was an increase in lending from both the IMF and other multilaterals adding that “we have not seen a clear strategy from the government on how these loans would be paid.
“How does the government engage young people and how do they plan to repay the loan, how does the government use this loan?”
“We are not happy with the implementation of the COVID-19 funds and the way the government is providing palliatives and stimulus packages, when you put freed up resources side by side and what is happening on the ground, we are certainly not satisfied. ”
Lawal expressed hope that the conference’s deliberations would go a long way in changing some things, because since the onset of COVID-19, there has not been a meeting like this that has brought key stakeholders, in especially government officials, to oversee the disbursement of COVID-19 resources together.
“So I’m delighted that CODE, in partnership with the budget, is able to bring stakeholders together and get government officials to answer questions that are critical to provide direction.
“Indeed, with the advent of fake news and disinformation, it is relevant that the government is able to react proactively to provide timely information to citizens so that we can remain united in the fight against the pandemic. ” (NOPE)
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