The federal government has made provision in the 2021 budget to pay for the vaccination of around 103 million Nigerians or 50 percent of the population against COVID-19.

Director General of the Budget Office of the Federation Ben Akabueze made this disclosure in Abuja on Tuesday during the budget 2021 budget breakdown.

According to Akabueze, there is a global alliance to support economically weak nations with vaccines, our understanding of the current plan is that we will be getting vaccines donations to cover up to 20 percent of our population but then the global standards says that to achieve herd immunity you have to vaccine at least 70 percent of the population and so there is a 50 percent of the population that we may be required to pay for their own vaccination”.

Already, there is an “inter-ministerial committee looking at this matters and the assurance is that government will do whatever is needful to keep the citizens and economy safe even if it means coming back with a supplementary budget.”

The National Assembly reviewed the 2021 budget upward by N500 billion to accommodate purchase and distribution of vaccines against Coronavirus.

On her part, the finance minister Mrs. Zainab Ahmed prayed that the situation should not arise to warrant another lockdown.

According to her, “we hope we never have to lockdown the economy like we did before because the impact is very high on the economy but then if the health challenge becomes so large, and government has no option then that step might be taken.

“Right now what we are doing as government, is to reinforce the measures that needs to be taken by government, by companies, by individuals to mitigate the impact from the covid to reduce the expansion and also obviates the health challenges”.

“Currently the vaccines are now out and they are available and Nigeria is in the process of deciding and beginning to acquire its own vaccine so we do hope that a lockdown the type we’ve seen in 2020 will not happen.”

On the budget proper, the finance minister stated that in 2020, the federal government over-spent what was appropriated by the National Assembly for expenditure by 101 percent.

According to Zainab Ahmed, “on the expenditure side, N9.97 trillion was appropriated (excluding GO Project tied loans), while N10.08 trillion (representing 101%) was spent.” She attributed the excess spending on unforeseen expenditures brought on by the Coronavirus pandemic.

Zainab Ahmed stated that “of the expenditure, N3.27 trillion was for debt service, and N3.19 trillion for Personnel cost, including Pensions” amounting to N6.46 trillion. However, she did not elaborate on how government spent the balance of N3.62 trillion.

To retire maturing bonds to local contractors, she said sum of N200 billion had been provided for in the new budget, representing 1.68 per cent of the total budget, adding that, “overall, N5.60 trillion has been provided for borrowing to finance the budget deficit”.

By the end of 2020, Zainab Ahmed disclosed that “N1.80 trillion had been released for capital expenditure (that is, about 89% of the provision for capital). Out of this, up to N118.37 billion was released for COVID-19 capital expenditure”.

The Nation


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