COVID-19: Buhari approves withdrawal of $150m from Sovereign Wealth Fund

Nigeria President Muhamadu Buhari has given approval for the withdrawal of $150m from the Sovereign Wealth Fund for distribution to the three tiers of government.

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, disclosed this on Monday, in Abuja during a media briefing on the fiscal policy measures to tackle the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the economy.

She said the amount would be withdrawn from the stabilisation fund component of the Sovereign Wealth Fund.

The fund is currently being managed by the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority.

Zainab said the need to withdraw the amount was to cushion the negative impact of the drop in revenue on the federation account.

She said, for instance, that since January, revenue inflow into the account has been on a decline – a situation that has affected the amount distributed to the three tiers of government by the Federation Account Allocation Committee.

The finance minister also said the government would be approaching international finance institutions such as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, African Development Bank among others to seek an additional fund to tackle the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Nigeria.

Buhari had last month set up a Special Ministerial Task Force to seek ways and advise on the general economic outlook, stimulus plans, and packages to save the Nigerian economy.

The task force headed by Ahmed is made up of the Minister of State, Budget and National Planning, Clem Agba; Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Silva; Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emiefele, and the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mele Kyari.

The worldwide outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic and the international oil price fall had led to an urgent call by many countries to find ways to keep their different economies from recession.

The coronavirus pandemic had led to unprecedented disruptions to global supply chains, sharp drop in global crude oil prices, turmoil in global stock and financial markets, lockdown of large swaths movements of persons in many countries among others.

These outcomes have had severe consequences on households’ livelihoods and business activities, resulting from a drop in global demand, declined consumer confidence and slowdown in production.

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