BudgIT Launches COVID-19 Fund Tracking Portal MWorld FEATURES, NEWS BudgIT, a civic organisation committed to fiscal transparency has launched its COVID-19 platform for tracking and monitoring of the utilisation of all donations from both local and international donors for COVID-19 response. It stated that the platform hosted on a website, through the network of its project tracking officers across the country, would also monitor the distribution of palliatives to the underprivileged and vulnerable communities across all states. The organisation noted that the recent crash in global oil prices and reduced demand for oil in the global market had resulted in at least a 60 per cent cut in oil proceeds, which is the federal government’s main source of revenue. This invariably means that the economy is now stretched thin of resources, thus, every fund earmarked by the government for COVID-19 response out of the already limited resources and donations from external bodies need to be judiciously spent and accounted for, it stressed. According to the Lagos-based organisation, to ensure proper monitoring, it has launched the COVID-19 platform, to ascertain if funds are being expended on not only measures that effectively combat the COVID-19 pandemic, but also on citizens’ welfare. Revealing in its reports, BudgIT’s Principal Lead, Gabriel Okeowo said; “So far, the federal government and sub-nationals have received a sum of over N200 billion from local and international donations in cash and in kind.” Recall to note, the IMF also approved its largest COVID-19 emergency financing package of $3.4 billion Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI) for Nigeria. This financing package is primarily meant to support the health care sector and assist to cushion the effects of revenue decline on the economy. “It has therefore become expedient to hold the government accountable on every penny dispensed for the COVID-19 response Speaking further, he reiterates; “If these emergency donations are not properly tracked, monitored and accounted for, the funds can be misappropriated, embezzled and diverted into private coffers, without any tangible impact or benefit to the health sector, citizens and the economy as a whole.” However, he implored the government to ensure its commitment to open data and full transparency by making available, comprehensive and detailed breakdown of how funds are dispensed on health infrastructure and citizens’ welfare. He also enjoined members of the public and other CSOs to collaborate, support and join BudgIT in demanding accountability from both the federal government and the sub-nationals via the platform.