The Federal Government has scrapped the payment of counterpart funds by state governments before they could access undisbursed funds from the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF). This was one of the decisions reached at the 13th virtual meeting of Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) held on Wednesday.
The decision was reached after consultations with the Senate Committee on Health, the Federal Ministry of Health, the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) and National Health Insurance Agency (NHIA).
A communiqué issued at the end of the meeting, said this was to ensure proper funding of the nation’s health facilities during the period of the coronavirus pandemic. The communiqué, which was signed by the NGF Chairman, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, added that arrangements have been made for the disbursement of other available funds that would help close the financing gap created by the pandemic.
This, according to Fayemi, included “the $100 million COVID-19 support from the World Bank and the N1 billion to each state from the Federal Government to fund health mitigation measures and infrastructure refunds for Federal Government roads constructed or rehabilitated by state governments.” The statement further added that the National Coordinator of the Presidential Tax Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Dr. Sani Aliyu, informed the governors of additional N2.1 billion available to each state from the Federal Government.
Aliyu, however, emphasised the need for governors to strengthen the public enlightenment committee of the COVID-19 pandemic response in their respective state.
He advised the governors to appoint the Commissioner for Information as chairman and a senior traditional leader in the state as co-chair, while the state health promotion officer should serve as secretary of the committee.
“Membership should be broad-based, including relevant MDAs such as NOA, development partners and private sector.
“A similar structure should also be created in each of the LGAs,” the national coordinator further advised. The state chief executives, therefore, agreed to publish their approved amended 2020 COVID- 19-responsive budgets by the end of this month.
The governors also accepted to continue the implementation of a tax compliance relief programme for individual taxpayers and businesses to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 crisis. In addition, they agreed to issue emergency procurement guidelines and to adopt procedures to facilitate the participation of small and medium scale enterprises in the state procurement by September 30.
While stating that they were not averse to the autonomy of the judiciary and the legislature, the state chief executives called for continued consultations with the Federal Government to resolve the contentious provisions of the Executive Order No. 10.
The NGF will, on July 28, sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP). According to the statement, “The initiative will be followed by the establishment of a joint project team, engagement with stakeholders and launch during the 2020 dry season farming.”
It added that the new partnership is in line with the Federal Government’s Economic Sustainability Plan, adding that states would “leverage on the ABP to expand economic opportunities for smallholder farmers across the country by increasing their capacity to access land, low interest financing, extension services, good agricultural practices and guaranteed markets for their produce.
“It will cover all CBN-focused crops, including rice, maize, cotton, cassava, oil palm, fish, cowpea, poultry and livestock among others.”
By Onyekachi Eze,