The modalities guiding a government’s banking arrangement is critical to economic growth in any country. This was the rationale that heralded the adoption of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) policy in Nigeria. TSA, a unified account which enables the consolidation and optimum utilization of government’s cash resources was expected to put an end to the fragmented system of handling public funds in the country.
The TSA has played a huge role in Nigeria’s journey towards public financial management (PFM) reform. Since its full commencement at the inception of the APC government, it has also been a major talking point among policy makers. However, recent findings brought to light by an ad hoc committee in the House of Representatives, set up to review the progress of the policy, have revealed that the rules of the TSA policy are currently being contravened.
Issues uncovered include the non-implementation of the foreign exchange component of the TSA, non-compliance by certain agencies and connivance with banks, complex revenue collection agreements, and non- remuneration of the facilitators of the TSA e-payment platform.
On December 12 and December 13, 2017, there were hearings by the House of Representatives ad hoc committee set up to investigate the TSA. Representatives from banks, the NNPC, the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation(OAuGF), the CBN, the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation(OAGF), and Systemspecs were in attendance. On the second day of the hearings, representatives from Intels logistics, Nigerian Ports Authority(NPA), and Systemspecs were present.
During these hearings, the chairman of the House committee, honourable Abubakar Danburam Nuhu made some important comments about the company that provides the Remita platform for transactions into and out of the TSA- Systemspecs.
The chairman was shocked to learn that after three years, the company that provides the technological platform upon which TSA runs has not been paid, neither have the commercial banks who have been at the forefront of ensuring the success of the TSA.
Danburam-Nuhu who also expressed his satisfaction at the performance of the Remita app, which Systemspecs built to facilitate transactions on the TSA said:
“This committee is impressed that a Nigerian company is providing the platform that TSA runs on,” he said. “The report from CBN and from the office of the Accountant General of the Federation have shown that Remita platform has performed exceptionally,” he added.
The chairman went ahead to express his displeasure about the non-payment of commission accrued to Systemspecs, and other stakeholders. He said,
“It is a thing of pride that the Committee found out that the TSA information technology REMITA solution was provided 100% by a Nigerian firm Systemspecs. This has been celebrated within Africa and the rest of the world.
“Shockingly, reports submitted to the Committee have shown that this firm is being owed huge amounts of money, going back over a year, due to it, as fees from the signed agreement executed with the Nigerian Government.
“Reports from the CBN and the OAGF have shown that the performance of the TSA platform has been exceptional and the local company has performed even beyond expectations”.
The chairman however, gave some assurances that the “Committee will not stand by and see any Nigerian company short-changed In line with the Agenda of the 8th House of Representatives and the Constitutional responsibilities of the Legislature, the Committee will ensure that this laudable policy of Government achieves its objectives and exposes those that contravene it”.
According to media reports, a commission of 1% should be paid to the facilitators with the revenue shared among CBN, the banks and Systemspecs.
However, it is a pity that such a company, that has contributed immensely to the success of what many have called the most effective policy of the Buhari administration, has not been paid for the services it has rendered. A lot of issues seemed to
Neither has the company that provides the technological platform upon which TSA runs been paid! But Mr. Nuhu gave some assurance, “in line with the agenda of the 8th House of Representatives, the committee will do everything possible to ensure that what is due to the companies and the various stakeholders that are supposed to be paid their own dues are paid.“
It is saddening that two years into the implementation of a policy that has ensured N7 trillion has been smoothly paid directly into the coffers of the federal government of Nigeria, it is taking a committee to stamp its feet to guarantee that sums owed to companies and banks that have facilitated the process will be paid.
This certainly has not been the case with whistle-blowers whose roles have not been definitely guaranteed by solid legislation or written contracts. On 12 April 2017, newspapers in Nigeria broke news that $43.5 million, £27,800 and N23.2 million were reported to have been found by a whistle-blower at No. 16 Osborne Road, in Lagos.
The Ikoyi whistle-blower was promptly paid 5% of the recovered sum by government a few weeks ago as opposed to those who have designed systems, invested in infrastructure and come up with processes that have seen government takings quadruple.
What makes it even more alarming is that while a whistle-blower gets 5% percent of what is recovered as a result of his effort, NPA/Intel’s Pilotage Services Collection fee is 28% of whatever is collected on government’s behalf, Nigeria Customs Cost of Collections is 7%, FIRS Cost of Collections is 4%, while those responsible for providing TSA infrastructure and services get 1% of what their effort yields to government!