President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the establishment of a-N500 billion COVID-19 Crisis Intervention Fund.
This was announced by Zainab Ahmed, Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning.
Ahmed who disclosed this at a press conference on fiscal stimulus measures in response to COVID-19 pandemic and oil prices fiscal shock, on Monday in Abuja, noted that the establishment of the Fund will involve drawing much-needed cash resources from various Special Funds and Accounts, in consultation with and with the approval of the National Assembly.
“The N500 billion is proposed to be utilized to upgrade healthcare facilities as earlier identified by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and approved by Mr. President.
“This will help to finance the Federal Government’s Interventions to support states in improving healthcare facilities, finance the creation of a Special Public Works programme and Fund any additional interventions that may be approved by Mr. President”.
The minister noted that although similar challenges were experienced in 2008/2009 as well as in 2015/2016, Nigeria had considerably lower fiscal buffers now than in previous economic downturns.
According to her, the decline in international oil prices and domestic production may be magnified if a severe outbreak of COVID-19 occurs, despite ongoing efforts to curtail the spread of the pandemic through compulsory lockdown of Lagos and Ogun States, as well as the FCT.
The minister said to directly address these health and economic challenges, the president approved the Fiscal Stimulus Package among others as part of an Integrated Policy Framework to ensure that Nigeria’s healthcare system, fiscal position and economy were sufficiently supported to weather these shocks.