…As Govt Seeks NASS Approval For N500bn Intervention Fund

Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, has knocked the distribution of N20,000 to Nigerians as palliative to cushion the economic effect of COVID-19 pandemic.

Senator Lawan, while faulting the move by the Federal government said, “I think the time has come for us to redefine the implementation of the Social Intervention Programme, SIP.

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.”

The Senate President said this on Saturday when the Federal Government requested for approval for the establishment of a N500 billion COVID-19 Crisis Intervention Fund from the National Assembly.

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, had met with the National Assembly leadership in Abuja to intimate them the reason for the request for the intervention fund.

At the meeting, which was a follow-up to an earlier one held last Wednesday between the leadership of the National Assembly and members of the Presidential Committee set up for the management of the COVID-19 crisis, Mrs. Ahmed had said, “What we are proposing is the establishment of a N500 billion COVID-19 Crisis Intervention Fund. This Fund, when 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.”

She maintained that in addition to the identified special accounts from where the money would be drawn as loans, the proposed intervention fund is also expected to be sourced from expected grants and loans from multilateral institutions.

She said,“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 healthcare facilities not only in the states, but to provide intervention to the states. Mrs. Ahmed said.

“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, which will define what the fund will be used for.”

In his response, the chairman of the National Assembly, Lawan, said, “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 developmental issues and challenges in the country, we will do so.

“This meeting, the second in the series, after we shut down the National Assembly for two weeks, is a clear testimony of what we have said. Governance requires that we work together, so we want to listen to those things that you have on your side and how we can also play our constitutional role in ensuring that Nigerians continue to benefit from governance and how we are able to weather the storm created by COVID-19.”


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