At a press conference yesterday at the headquarters of the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Abuja, the Honurable Minister of Finance, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, speaking from a ministerial press statement on ‘fiscal stimulus measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and oil price fiscal shock,’ highlighted the sub-topic, ‘Enhanced Financial Support To The States For Critical Healthcare Expenditure.’
The Honourable Minister, under the sub-topic, said: “We deeply appreciate the support we have received so far from our partners at the World Bank. We are continuing our engagements with the World Bank, the African Development Bank, the Islamic Development Bank and the International Monetary Fund to access concessional funding to support the implementation of the 2020 Budget.
“We have also applied for funding from the International Monetary Fund’s COVID-19 Rapid Credit Facility to draw from our existing holdings with the World Bank Group / International Monetary Fund. This facility will not be tied to any conditionalities. However, it is important to clarify that Nigeria does not intend to negotiate or enter into a formal programme with the International Monetary Fund, at this time, or in the foreseeable future.
Fielding questions from the press after delivering the Press Statement, Ahmed said that the $3.4billion facility that Nigeria is asking from the World Bank/IMF is not a loan, but Nigeria’s contribution or holding with the organisations.
In spite of the clarification, there is unfortunately a misconception in the media that the Federal Government is taking a loan of N2.5trillion from World Bank/IMF and the AfDB. The report, particularly on that issue, is not true; it is an apparent misconception. The $3.4b is Nigeria’s holding(savings) which the World Bank/IMF has made available to all countries to draw from their savings. As many as over 80 countries have written to the World Bank/IMF to also draw from their holdings, just as the “Federal Government has made a request to draw from Nigeria’s existing holdings with the World Bank Group / IMF, according to the Honurable Minister.
The facility is to help member countries cover the fiscal space in their different countries, as a result of the decline in the international oil prices and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking further on the Enhanced Financial Support To The States For Critical Healthcare Expenditure, Ahmed also stated: “The government has provided N102.5 billion in resources to be available for direct interventions in the healthcare sector. Of this sum, N6.5 billion has already been made available to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) for critical expenditure. More funds are to be provided from the proposed crisis intervention fund to address emerging and priority funding needs as these arise.”
“The NCDC has access to a Regional Disease Surveillance Systems (REDISSE) facility from the World Bank in the sum of US$90 million, out of which US$8 million has been drawn. We have requested to fully draw down on the outstanding balance of US$82 million. The Government has also requested for additional financing in the sum of US$100 million from the REDISSE project to meet COVID-19 emergency needs in all the 36 States and the FCT, through the NCDC and Federal Ministry of Health. This will enable us to expand the capacity of intensive Care Units (ICUs), enhance laboratory capacity, accelerate the procurement of test kits, strengthen surveillance mechanisms as well as improve information management.
“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. Lagos State has already been provided N10 billion in emergency funding. 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,” she also stated