Disbursements of the COVID-19 funds domiciled with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and commercial banks will be after appropriation by the National Assembly.
Also, participating Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) must provide information on all COVID-19 fund transactions requested under the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) within seven days of receiving the request.
These are part of a set guidelines issued on Tuesday by the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation detailing the framework for the management of COVID-19 Funds in Nigeria under the Treasury Single Account (TSA).
The guidelines are part of efforts by the government to ensure the fund is managed with the “highest sense of transparency and integrity to meet the expectations of Nigerians.”
The framework covers all public funds allocated and dedicated to the fight against COVID-19, including the funds under the federal government ‘s fiscal stimulus package launched in April.
They also apply to all donations by corporate entities and individuals to the federal government towards the fight against COVID-19 and the mitigation of its social and economic effects on Nigerians.
These include about N28 billion under the Private Sector Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) Fund domiciled at the CBN and the five COVID-19 donor TSA sub-accounts domiciled in Zenith Bank, Access Bank, Guarantee Trust Bank, United Bank for Africa and First Bank.
The framework named the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning to superintend over the management of the Funds on behalf of the Ministries, Departments and Agencies.
The finance minister would liaise with the National Assembly for emergency passage of a supplementary budget for the utilisation of COVID-19 donation based on estimated total collection for the year.
Budgets submitted by the finance minister to the National Assembly, the guidelines said, shall be based on details of the needs submitted by the affected MDAs together with estimated costs, as the basis for allocation of funds, to enable post expenditure reporting and audit.
Also, funds are to be transferred to TSA Sub-Accounts of spending units based on approved allocations.
“Funds are to be appropriated directly to participating MDAs and spending units like the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Nigerian Centre for Disease Control, etc., rather than to an intermediary agency like the Presidential Task Force (PTF), while administrative cost of the PTF shall be appropriated separately to the PTF Secretariat,” the Accountant-General said in a statement.
Other details of the guidelines include that the TSA sub-accounts in the commercial banks are to be used solely for the purpose of receiving COVID-19 donations.
MDAs barred from depositing other funds
The guidelines bar MDAs from depositing any other fund into the accounts or any other account in commercial banks dedicated to COVID-19.
Besides, all other government accounts by the MDAs are to be maintained at the CBN in line with the presidential directive on TSA, the TSA Guidelines and related extant Federal Circulars on the matter.
To ensure a single window for real-time access to details of transactions, in terms of receipts and payments across all commercial bank accounts, the guidelines stipulate that all accounts be linked with the TSA at CBN.
Apart from providing a single consolidated view of aggregate government cash balances at the touch of the button, the guidelines said the arrangement would ensure the current CBN Payment Gateway may be deployed.
”All collections into the Commercial bank accounts are to be swept into FGN Sub-Recurrent Account with the CBN. Failure to sweep all balances within 24 hours shall be deemed a violation of the Presidential directive on TSA which shall attract sanctions,” the statement said.
For accounting purposes, the guidelines said the collection of donations and disbursements for COVID 19 donations under the Fund source segment be added to the Chart of Accounts, to make it possible for all receipts and payments to be uniquely tracked and reported.
Considering that funds are to be disbursed based on NASS appropriation, the guideline demands that all payments be effected using the Government Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS) system for adequate budget management and accounting.
In addition, the guidelines said in all cases, extant laws, rules and regulations, including those relating to the Public Procurement Act (subject to the guidance of the Bureau for Public Procurement) shall apply.
Where GIFMIS is used in reporting, the guidelines said fund-based budget performance reports shall be generated for each participating MDA using all applicable segments to provide additional level of details and transparency.
Other requirement include the publication of a daily treasury statement for COVID-19 fund by the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation outlining all inflows and outflows.
While the inflows shall show the source of the funds, the outflow shall indicate the MDA responsible for each payment out of the Fund.
Each participating MDA is expected to publish a daily payment report indicating the beneficiary, purpose of the payment and the amount for any payment above N5 million out of the COVID-19 Fund.
In addition, each MDA shall publish a detailed report of its activities relating to COVID-19 Fund on its website at the end of every week, while a Monthly Budget Performance Report shall be published on the Open Treasury Portal not later than 14 days following the end of the month.
A comprehensive report of all receipts and payments shall be published on the OAGF Transparency Portal as well as other government websites, including those of Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning; Secretary to the Government of the Federation and OAGF not later than two weeks following the end of the pandemic.
Failure to publish timely reports of COVID-19 activities in the prescribed format and at the stipulated intervals or to respond to FOI requests will constitute early warning signs of mismanagement and shall be deemed as a contravention of the guideline, the statement said.
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