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FG to spend N296bn on Covid-19 vaccination – Finance minister

THE Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, has said the Federal Government would spend N296billion on Covid-19 vaccinations in 2021 and 2022.

Ahmed made the disclosure while fielding questions from State House correspondents after the weekly meeting of the Federal Executive Council presided over by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

She explained that the Federal Government arrived at the figure (N296b) after dropping the idea of building primary healthcare centres which would have cost N130b.

“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 N399bn, but included in this N399bn was a N103bn for building of primary healthcare centres.

“So, we have worked with and met several times with the ministry and we have agreed to back out from this building of primary health care centres. That can wait till later.

“So, there is still a provision of N296bn for Covid-19 vaccinations for 2021 and 2022,” the minister explained.

Ahmed further disclosed, “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.

“The ministry is working with partners that are donating these vaccines. So, we see the timelines of the donations and see the gap that the government needs to fill in 2021.”

She added that the ministry had already provided funds to enable them to roll out the four million doses that had been brought already into the country.

Ahmed explained that the figure may significantly reduce as the Federal Government receives more donations of the vaccines from the private sector.

She added that the Ministry of Health is working on details of the gap that the Federal Government will be required to fill in the vaccination exercise.

She also explained that the size of the proposed supplementary budget agreed by the executive and legislative arm is yet to be resolved, because the Ministry of Defence and Health, are yet to provide details of the military hardware requirement.

Ahmed had earlier in February said a supplementary budget will be needed to cover the cost of Covid-19 vaccinations, for which no provision was made in the 2021 finance bill adopted in December.
The Federal Government has said it plans to

inoculate 40% of Nigeria’s population this year and another 30% in 2022.

“There will be a supplementary budget, the first one will be in March relating to the Covid-19 pandemic,” Ahmed had told reporters in February.

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