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COVID-19: Reps ask 2 ministries to refund unutilized N85bn intervention funds

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The House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts has asked the Ministry of Industries, Trade and Investment to refund the N75 billion allocated to it as COVID-19 intervention funds to government coffers.

Similarly, the committee asked the Federal Ministry of Health to also refund the sum of N10 billion meant for vaccine production, saying the money was not expended.

The two ministries were given the directives on Thursday during an investigative hearing on the expenditure of the COVID-19 intervention fund by ministries , departments and agencies, MDAs.

The committee lamented that the Ministry of Industries was invited three times but failed to honour the invitations.

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Bassey Akiba (LP, Cross Rivers) who adopted the motion, asked the committee to compel the Ministry to refund the money it received during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

The committee further directed that the money should be refunded to the government offers with immediate effect.

The chairman of the committee, Bamidele Salam, (PDP, Osun) told members that there were series of invitations issued to the Ministry but they were all turned down.

He said, “The Federal Ministry of Industries, Trade and Investments got the sum of N75 billion as COVID-19 Intervention funds. The Public Account Committee has sent invitations to the Ministry of Industries, Trade and Investments three times, and none of the invitations has been honoured.

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“The Federal Ministry of Trade was to make their appearance yesterday. That was the last opportunity given to them but there was no such appearance. N75 billion was appropriated to them.

“The former Permanent Secretary and the current Permanent Secretary are directed by this motion to refund the sum of N75 billion to the Federal Government as COVID-19 intervention which as far as we are concerned has not been expended.”

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