Zainab Ahmed, the minister of finance, budget and national planning, says state and local governments share some of the responsibility to fix roads in Nigeria.
Following the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, the Federal Government has provided N102.5 billion in resources as stimulus to be made available for direct interventions in the healthcare sector across the country.
Of this amount, N6.5 billion has already been made available to the Nigerian Center for Disease Control, NCDC, for critical expenditure.
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, disclosed this on Monday in Abuja at a press conference on the establishment of a-N500 Billion COVID-19 Crisis Intervention Fund.
She said the Federal Government remains committed to supporting the States in these difficult times, particularly those States that are currently battling with the COVID-19 Pandemic.
According to her, Lagos State has already been provided N10 billion in emergency funding, adding that “as the situation in the FCT and other States at the forefront of our efforts unfolds, explicit criteria are to be agreed with the Federal Ministry of Health and the NCDC to determine when funds would be released to the affected States and the FCT.
“More funds are to be provided from the proposed COVID-19 Crisis Intervention Fund to address emerging and priority funding needs as these arise”, she explained.
The Minister pointed out that to complement these initiatives, ” we are taking steps to activate, release and (where necessary) enhance the hazard allowances provided in the remuneration structure of the Federal health sector workers.
She commended the patriotism and sacrifice of the frontline healthcare workers, for their critical roles in combatting the COVID-19 Pandemic at the risk of their lives and assured them of Federal Government’s “adequate insurance, compensation and support during, and in the aftermath of the COVID-19 Pandemic”.
Commenting on the impact of the lock down on transportation, distribution and availability of essential food items and medical supplies, Ahmed said the Government recognised the adverse implications of these extraordinary decisions on our market women, farmers, traders and smaller businesses.
She said, “The Finance Act, 2019 fortuitously provided significant tax relief for Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs). Corporate tax rates for Medium-sized Enterprise were cut from 30% to 20%, and Small / Micro Enterprises are completely exempt from corporate taxation.
“This tax relief will be invaluable for businesses in the large informal sector that earn N25 million or less in a financial year. The Finance Act, 2019 has also expanded the VAT Exemption List for essential food, medical supplies and other basic items that are critical in our efforts to address the COVID-19 Pandemic.
“We deeply appreciate the overwhelming show of solidarity by public-spirited individuals and corporate bodies towards combating the COVID-19 Pandemic through financial and material contributions. In this regard, the Government recognises its responsibility to put an adequate framework in place for the collection, management and reporting of these donations.
“Accordingly, the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning is developing a comprehensive framework for the transparent management of the contributions.
“In the interim, Mr. President has approved the restructuring of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) in order to better mobilize cash donations from the generality of our people and corporate bodies across the nation, create flexibility and build a coalition with financial institutions while maintaining the sanctity of the TSA.
“Going forward, the COVID-19 Donor Accounts, which will form part of the existing TSA arrangement, shall be opened with the following banks: Zenith Bank, Access Bank, Guaranty Trust Bank, UBA; and First Bank. These accounts will be linked to the main TSA for ease of monitoring and reporting”.