By Jonathan Nda- Isaiah,
The Federal Government has explained reasons why there is a delay in the submission of supplementary budget for procurement of security equipment and COVID-19 vaccines to the National Assembly.
Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, disclosed this to State House correspondents after the federal executive council meeting presided over by Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo at the presidential Villa.
The minister attributed the delay to the non submission of the military hardware estimates by the defence ministry.
According to her, government has put on hold its plan to build additional primary healthcare centres across the country.
She said her Ministry has met with the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Lucky Irabor and the three service chiefs on the urgent need to have the estimates for the military hardwares to be procured so as to include it in the proposed supplementary budget.
She said, “For the military hardware, we have met with the Service Chiefs and the Chief of Defence Staff. They are supposed to aggregate their request for review amongst themselves and then pass it to Mr. President, then it will be sent to us. So we are waiting for the information of the aggregate requirements.”
She further explained that the supplementary budgetary estimate for COVID-19 vaccines prepared by her Ministry and that of health is ready .
She, however added that the amount initially voted for the building of primary healthcare centres has been kept on hold for now.
Ahmed said, “Sometime in January, the President based on the request by the Ministry of Health gave an approval in principle for the Ministry of Health to work with the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning to prepare and take to the National Assembly a supplementary budget for COVID-19 vaccination.
“The submission that was made to Mr. President at that time was in the sum of N399 billion, but included in this N399 billion was a N103 billion for building of primary healthcare centres. So we’ve worked with and met several times with the ministry, we’ve agreed to back out from this building of primary health care centres, that can wait till later. So there’s still a provision of 396 billion for COVID-19 vaccinations for 2021 and 2022.”
The minister also disclosed that Nigeria was expecting not less than 43 million COVID-19 doses from donors.
She said health ministry officials have been mandated to come up with the total number of vaccine donation being expected to guide government in its plans to buy more vaccines for the citizenry.
“There has been some delays because we expected the ministry to confirm the vaccines donation that Nigeria is expecting. We are expecting a total of not less than 43 million doses of vaccines. So they are supposed to find out when those ones will come. Because, if we are going to get the back the donated vaccines, and at the speed of the current rollout, we have slow down on what we’re buying ourselves.
“So the ministry is working with partners that are donating this vaccines. So we see the timelines of the donations and see the gap that the government needs to fill in 2021.
“But we have already provided to the ministry funds to enable them roll out the 4 million vaccines that have been brought already into the country, and the vaccination process is ongoing.
“So for us is still work in progress. We hope in the next couple of days, we’ll have clarity on the schedule of vaccines expected from donors, and then we will now be able to firm up what government has to provide for in 2021. And therefore the 2022 component we will provide it during the 2022 appropriations,” she stated.