COVID FUND: Federal Government Orders Beneficiary MDAs To It’s Expenditure Public Within Seven Days.

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Edozie Udeojo,Abuja

The federal government has directed all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) that will benefit from the COVID-19 contributions to provide information to the public within seven days on how the money is spent

The federal government also barricaded the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID 19 from having access to the donated funds.

The Office of the Accountant General of the Federation (OAGF) in Abuja on Tuesday issued a framework on how the donated COVID 19 fund is to be administered.

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

The framework stated that the COVID 19 Funds are “to be appropriated directly to participating MDAs and spending units like Ministry of Health, Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Nigerian Centre for Disease Control, etc rather than to an intermediary agency like the Presidential Task Force (PTF).”

Administrative cost of the PTF the government 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 government 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.”

To ensure equity and transparency in fund allocation, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning has also been directed to work with the PTF to determine the needs of participating MDA such as Health, Humanitarian Affairs, NCDC, etc.

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 TSA Sub Accounts of spending units based on approved allocations.

The federal government also ordered all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (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 7 days of receiving the request.”

Failure to publish timely report of COVID-19 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 also ordered that “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 Office of the Accountant General of the Federation shall publish a Daily Treasury Statement for COVID-19 Fund outlining all the inflows into the Fund and all the outflows.

Also, each participating MDA shall publish a Daily Payment Report indicating the Beneficiary, Purpose of the Payment and the amount for any payment above N5 million made out of the COVID-19 Fund.

These publications shall be made on the Open Treasury Portal ( not later than one week following the respective transaction. In addition each MDA shall publish a detailed report of its activities relating to COVID-19 Fund on its website at the end of every week.

The Monthly Budget Performance Report for the COVID-19 Fund shall be published on the Open Treasury Portal not later than 14 days following the end of the month.

In addition, a comprehensive report of all receipts and payments shall be published on the OAGF Transparency Portal as well as other Government websites including those of Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning; Secretary to the Government of the Federation and Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation (OAGF) not later than two weeks following the end of the pandemic.

For purposes of visibility the government has instructed that “the inflow information “shall indicate the source of the funds while the outflow information shall indicate the MDA responsible for each payment out of the Fund.”

All accounts with commercial banks are to be linked with the TSA at CBN to provide a single consolidated view of aggregate Government cash balances.

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This will provide a single window for real time access to details of receipts and payments across all commercial bank accounts. In the absence of a ready tool to accomplish this requirement, the current CBN Payment Gateway may be deployed.

The organized private sector, wealthy individuals and ordinary citizens have rising to to help government mitigate the impact of the dreaded Coronavirus pandemic through financial and material donations for the provision of critical medical facilities and equipment as well as palliatives for vulnerable citizens.

According to a statement by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Friday, April 17 2020; donations to the Private Sector Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) Fund domiciled at the CBN was N25.8 billion.

In addition to the main CACOVID Fund Account with CBN; President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the opening of five COVID-19 Donor Accounts which form part of the existing TSA arrangement in the following commercial banks: Zenith Bank; Access Bank; Guarantee Trust Bank; UBA; and First Bank.

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