Nigeria: Coronavirus - Nigeria to Release N6.5 Billion to NCDC

The federal government will release N6.5 billion to the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), the finance minister, Zainab Ahmed, has said.

The fund, she said, is an intervention to assist in the fight against the spread of the COVID-19 in Nigeria.

She made this disclosure during a meeting with the leadership of the National Assembly in Abuja on Wednesday.

Ms Ahmed, the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria and other executive officials met with the lawmakers to discuss the planned budget review as well as the effect of the pandemic and recent oil price crash on the nation's economy.

The meeting comes about a week after the Senate resolved that the review of the 2020 budget was inevitable.

The resolution was sequel to the receipt and deliberation of the interim report of the Senate joint committee on finance, appropriations, national planning and petroleum resources (upstream).

In her presentation, the minister said the federal government had made provisions for health sector interventions by introducing import duty waivers for essential input for pharmaceutical firms; tax waivers on new equipment; and deferment of tax to increase production.

She disclosed that the federal government would be releasing N6.5 billion in two tranches (N1.5 billion and N5 billion) to the NCDC as intervention to assist in the fight against the spread of the COVID-19 disease in Nigeria.

The Lagos State Government would receive financial support from the federal government to the tune of N10 billion to combat Ccoronavirus spread in the state, she said.

She also informed the lawmakers that Nigeria had received a grant of $18.2 million from Japan for strengthening seven NCDC centres across the country. She added that N1 billion would be released by government to pharmaceutical firms in the country.

Ms Ahmed's statement comes days after Ibrahim Oloriegbe, the chairman of the Senate committee on Health (Secondary and Tertiary) told journalists that N620 million earlier budgeted for the NCDC, has been released in full.

Nigeria recorded its first death from the ongoing Covid-19 outbreak on Monday.

So far, Nigeria has a total of 51 confirmed cases and one death.

Lagos State has the highest number of confirmed cases in the country with 32 cases, followed by Abuja with 10 cases, Ogun State three, and Ekiti, Oyo Edo, Bauchi Osun and Rivers have one case each.

Most of the cases reported are travellers who have just returned to the country. Other cases are people who have come in contact with infected people.

Some senior government officials like Bauchi State Governor, Bala Mohammed, and the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari have tested positive while others have self-isolated.

Meanwhile, most state governments have directed that some of its workers stay at home and not report to work.

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