Fed Govt bars PTF from COVID-19 fund

THE Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 Control has no role in the disbursement of the multi-billion funds mobilised for the Federal Government by members of the Organised Private Sector (OPS).

A framework issued on Tuesday by the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation (OAGF) in Abuja on how the donated COVID-19 fund will administered, barred the Task Force from having access to the cash.

According to the framework, disbursements of all COVID-19 Fund, including those being collected directly by the Centre Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and those domiciled with commercial banks shall be through appropriation.

A statement by the CBN on April 17 put donations to the Private Sector Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) Fund domiciled at the apex bank at N25.8 billion.

In addition to the main CACOVID Fund Account at the CBN, President Muhammadu Buhari 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 framework stated that the 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, the OAGF noted “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,” the framework stated.

The framework noted that, “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 “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.”

To ensure equity and transparency in funds allocation, Mrs. Ahmed has also been directed to work with the PTF to determine the needs of relevant MDAs.

Affected MDAS, the framework noted, “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.”

Funds are to be transferred to the TSA sub- accounts of spending units based on approval.

The government also ordered all MDAs that will benefit from the COVID-19 contributions to provide information to the public within seven days on how the money is spent.

According to the framework, any information regarding the management of the COVID-19 fund should be made available “to any member of the public. 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.”

The government warned that failure to publish activities in the prescribed format and at the stipulated intervals or to respond to FOI request the government warned “will constitute early warning signs of mismanagement and shall be deemed as contravention of this guideline.”

The framework further stated: “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.”

Going forward, the OAGF shall publish a daily treasury statement for COVID-19 Fund outlining all the inflows into the fund and all the outflows.

Every participating MDA shall publish 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.

The 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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