BudgIT Reviews COVID-19 Fund Management in new Report

By Omolabake Fasogbon

BudgIT has sought for public documentation of COVID-19 spendings and disbursement in a new report that it recently released.

The report titled: “COVID-19 Fund: Fiscal Support, Palliative Analysis & Institutional Response” reviewed Nigeria’s current fiscal support and institutional response to COVID-19.

It analysed data on COVID-19 response in Nigeria, including donations, allocations, disbursements and palliative distribution processes at national and state levels.

The report which had six states as its case study such as: Niger, Lagos, Kano, Ogun, Enugu and Rivers also reviewed the activities of relevant agencies as well as the supports from both private and international institutions.

This also included the $5.6 billion received as donations, grants, and relief support by the Nigerian government

It identified shadiness in the management of COVID-19 intervention efforts such as funds and materials, adding that the distribution process have not been fair and transparent enough.

While dissecting the report to the media during the week, CEO of BudgIT, Gabriel Okeowo, stated that continuous mismanagement of COVID-19 fund and palliatives has widen the gap between the rich and the poor, where the vulnerable and marginalised were being denied access.

Okeowo noted that a report of this nature was necessary to spot out the weakness in government response to COVID-19 as well as offer recommendations for future emergency response.

He added,”the effects of COVID-19 on the economy spotlight depression, sufferings and poverty.”

On his part,Senior Program Officer, BudgIT, Iyanuoluwa Bolarinwa stated that despite the disbursement of N288bn from the N500bn set aside for Covid-19 interventions programme by the federal government, the details of the fund were not published on the Open Treasury Platform.

“This further establishes our concerns about the lack of a proper framework for COVID19 fund accountability in Nigeria. To this end, we are committed to partnering with agencies like the ICPC and others, to ensure a proper framework for probing COVID-19 response issues.”

In light of identified weaknesses, Okeowo recommended strengthened investment in the health sector, amongst others.

He said, “Health emergencies are inevitable, and a country must never be caught unawares. An effective response must begin with adequate preparation and resource allocation to the health sector, after which a proper process for monitoring, transparency and accountability should be established.”

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