President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the opening of five COVID-19 Donor Accounts, which form part of the existing Treasury Single Account arrangement in five commercial banks.
Henshaw Ogubike, Director Information and Press, Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, made this known in a statement in Abuja on Tuesday.
Ogubike disclosed that the approved banks were Zenith Bank, Access Bank, Guaranty Trust Bank, United Bank for Africa and First Bank.
He explained that the framework covered all public funds allocated and dedicated to the fight against COVID-19, including the Fiscal Stimulus Package as well as all donations by corporate bodies and individuals to the Federal Government towards the fight against COVID-19 and the mitigation of its social and economic effects on citizens.
He said this directive also included donations under the Private Sector Coalition Against COVID-19 Fund domiciled at the Central Bank of Nigeria.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the Nigeria Private Sector Coalition Against COVID-19 as of April 23 realised about N27.160 billion.
According to to Ogubike, the Federal Government recognises citizens expectation that these resources be prudently applied towards the fight against COVID-19.
He said: “In accordance with citizens expectations, government is committed to managing these funds with the highest sense of transparency and integrity.
“This framework is therefore designed to articulate the measures put in place by government for the transparent and accountable management of COVID-19 Donor Funds as an expression of its commitment towards bridging the trust gap.
“The TSA Sub Account in commercial banks are to be used for the purposes of receiving COVID-19 donations only. On no account shall any other fund of Federal Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDA) be deposited into the accounts or any other account in commercial banks.
“All other government accounts are to be maintained at the CBN in line with the Presidential directive on TSA, the TSA Guidelines and related extant Circulars.
“And 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.
“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 Director stated that all collections into the commercial bank accounts were to be swept into Federal Government’s Sub-Recurrent Account with the CBN and failure to sweep all balances within 24 hours should be deemed a violation of the Presidential directive on TSA and would attract sanctions.
Ogubike further said the disbursements of all COVID-19 Fund, including those being collected directly by CBN and those domiciled with commercial banks shall be through appropriation.
According to him, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, may liaise with the National Assembly for emergency passage of a supplementary budget for the utilization of COVID-19 donation based on estimated total collection for the year.
He said: “Funds are to be appropriated directly to participating MDA and spending units like Ministry of Health, Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Nigerian Centre for Disease Control, among others rather than to an intermediary agency like the Presidential Task Force (PTF).
“Administrative cost of the PTF 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.
“Furthermore, transparency is enhanced when funds are spread to more MDA than when a huge amount is put under the control of a single entity.
“Given that there is a national emergency to which everyone including National Assembly is invested in addressing, there is no doubt that legislature will be willing to fast track its passage.
“This will bind all spending units to the Appropriation Act and, in fact, provide the greatest measure of credibility and transparency to the management of the donation.
“To ensure equity and transparency in fund allocation, the Minister of Finance may work with the PTF to determine the needs of participating MDA such as Health, Humanitarian Affairs, NCDC among others.
“Affected MDAs shall present details of their needs together with estimated cost. This will form the basis for allocation of funds and enables post expenditure reporting and audit. Funds are to be transferred to TSA Sub Accounts of spending units based on approved allocations.”