Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Nigeria to draw up supplementary budget for COVID-19 vaccines in March -finance minister

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Nigeria will draw up a supplementary budget in March to cover the cost of Covid-19 vaccinations, for which no provision was made in the 2021 finance bill adopted in December, finance minister Zainab Ahmed said on Thursday.

The government has said it plans to inoculate 40% of Nigeria’s 200 million people this year and another 30% in 2022. The country, Africa’s most populous, has been hit by a second wave of infections in recent weeks.

“There will be a supplementary budget, the first one will be in March relating to the Covid-19 pandemic,” Ahmed told reporters, without giving any indication of its size.

Noting that the cost of buying and distributing vaccines was not included in the 13.6 trillion naira 2021 budget, she said ministers were working with health authorities on a plan to be approved by the president and then lawmakers.

“We are already releasing money to the health authority to start operation in the first batch of vaccines that is going to arrive the country in one week,” Ahmed said after meeting President Muhammadu Buhari.

She also said Nigeria has yet to conclude a $1.5 billion loan agreement with the World Bank because of disagreements on exchange rate reforms.

The World Bank has said Nigeria needs to strengthen reforms to its naira currency before it can approve the loan.

Ahmed said she felt Nigeria had met the World Bank’s requirements but that it had asked for the gap in the naira’s exchange rate on the over-the-counter spot market and on the black market to be narrowed.

The finance minister also told reporters Nigeria had received a $600 million loan from the Africa Development Bank.

Reuters

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