FG bars PTF from accessing multi-billion naira COVID-19 fund

The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 Control cannot access the multi-billion Naira fund donated to the Federal Government by members of the Organised Private Sector (OPS) for the fight against the pandemic.

This is captured in a new framework released by the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation (OAGF) on Tuesday May 5, showing that disbursements of all COVID-19 Fund, including those being collected directly by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and those domiciled with commercial banks shall be through appropriation.

Asides having N25.8 billion in the Private Sector Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) Fund domiciled in CBN, President Muhammadu Buhari had also approved the opening of five COVID-19 Donor Accounts which form part of the existing TSA arrangement in Zenith Bank; Access Bank; Guarantee Trust Bank; UBA; and First Bank.

The notice from the OAGF reads in part; 

“Funds are to be appropriated directly to participating MDAs and spending units, including the ministries of Health and Humanitarian Affairs, Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), among others, rather than to an intermediary agency like the PTF.

“Administrative cost of the PTF shall be appropriated separately to the PTF secretariat.

“The advantage is that the respective spending units and their accounting officers take full responsibility for funds appropriated to them and likely bottlenecks at the PTF are eliminated. 

 “Transparency is enhanced when funds are spread to more MDA than when a huge amount is put under the control of a single entity.”

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning Mrs. Zainab Ahmed has been directed to work with the PTF to determine the needs of relevant MDAs, and also to “liaise with the National Assembly for emergency passage of a supplementary budget for the utilisation of COVID-19 donation based on estimated total collection for the year.”

MDAs that will benefit from the COVID-19 contributions are expected to provide information to the public within seven days on how the money is spent, and funds are to be transferred to the TSA sub- accounts of spending units based on approval. The Federal Government further stated that failure of any MDA to publish details of how they spent their COVID-19 funds “will constitute early warning signs of mismanagement and shall be deemed as contravention of this guideline.”

The notice added; “MDAs shall present details of their needs together with estimated cost. This will form the basis for allocation of funds and enable post expenditure reporting and audit.

“All participating MDA are 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 seven days of receiving the request.

“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.”

While the OAGF will henceforth publish a daily treasury statement for COVID-19 Fund outlining all the inflows into the fund and all the outflows, MDAs will be publishing a daily payment report of beneficiaries, purpose of the payment and the amount for any payment above N5 million made out of the COVID-19 fund.

A monthly budget performance report for the COVID-19 fund shall be published on the open treasury portal not later than 14 days at the end of the month.

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