Monday 16 November 2015

N25bln REMITA-TSA Saga: 'How We Shared The Money' - Consultant ‘Confesses’ To Buhari

Tsa Collector Explains To President Muhammadu Buhari How The One Percent Fee Was Shared With Cbn And Banks As Controversy Forces It To Suspend Charges On E-Collections

The can of worms opened by Senator Dino Melaye on the fraud perpetrated under watch of President Muhammadu Buhari in the implementation of the Treasury Single Account (TSA), may be deeper than explained as the consultants have explained to the President how the 1 percent fee it charged for processing the payments, was shared.

Though Sen. Melaye had alleged that the consultant, using a payment platform known as Remita, pocketed a princely N25 billion within a few days implementing the TSA order, the consultants however claimed that only N3 billion had entered its coffers as earnings from its services.

Dismissing the N25 billion claims, the consultants, knows as System Specs, which chairman is Dr. Christopher Kolade, said the N3 billion it got was its own share after the 1 percent charge had been shared between it, affected banks and the CBN in the ratio of 5 percent, four percent and 1 percent respectively.

Earlier, CBN said it had recovered N8 billion from the consultants. CBN claimed the amount was over paid to System Specs.

On the board of System Specs are Kolade listed as chairman, John Obaro (managing director), Emmanuel Ocholi (director), Dr. Ernest Ndukwe (director), ‘Deremi Atanda (executive Director) and Dr. Emmanuel Eze (executive director). According to the letter, the consultants said indeed, it got N3 billion from the 1 percent processing fee though it did not state how much the total amounted to.

The letter published by thewillnigeria. com, was signed by the Managing Director of System Specs, Mr. John Obaro, and reads in part: “Your Excellency, we are aware that you must have heard series of reports around the 1% processing fees chargeable on e-Collections of Government receipts. We will like to provide some background on these issues sir.

“System Specs was engaged to provide the Payment Gateway for TSA in 2011. While the payment leg of TSA commenced in January 2012, the collection component did not start as scheduled due to the resistance from a number of quarters and the absence of the political will to push this through.

“In 2013, CBN and OAGF (Office of Accountant General of the Federation) setup a multi-stakeholder implementation committee and organised a joint seminar with key stakeholders, including banks, to agree on formalities for commencement of e-collection.

“The Banks proposed a fee of 5% to compensate for the fact that they would no longer keep float.
“The implementation committee however recommended 2.5% after negotiation with the banks.

“The then AGF later approved 1% as processing fee, which was in turn communicated to all the stakeholders through CBN in December 2013. Subsequently, we executed a contract with CBN and other stakeholders involved on the provision of services to support TSA.

“Based on the increased scope of the TSA project, following your directive in August 2015 for all MDAs to join the scheme, we had highlighted the need for a stakeholder meeting to discuss the TSA e-collection fees. This was communicated to both CBN and OAGF.

“Instead of an invitation for a stakeholders meeting as requested, we received a directive from the CBN Governor to refund all TSA e-collection fees earned to date and to suspend all charges on the platform.

“System Specs has since complied fully with this directive and refunded all monies earned to date to CBN. This we did in good faith and without prejudice to avoid distractions that could becloud the bigger potential of the TSA project for our country.

“While we await clarification from OAGF/CBN on the way forward, we have since suspended all TSA ecollection fees on the platform. This means that none of the TSA collection parties/channels are earning any fees for providing services to Government.

“This position is however not sustainable as the collection partner banks are threatening to suspend FGN TSA collections. This would clearly be playing into the hands of those who do not wish this initiative to succeed.
“We understand the strategic importance of the TSA project to this administration and the country at large. We have demonstrated good faith and continued commitment to the project in the last four years to deliver on our mandate.
“We will continue to do all within our power to bring the project to full term.

“Your Excellency, we would appreciate your kind and urgent intervention to ensure a speedy resolution of this matter before the banks stop collections.”

Though it had written the President on the issue, System Spec also published information on its website indicating that it would make public details of its involvement in the e-collection contract and other issues pertaining to it. It said: “Our attention has been drawn to various mentions of our Remita electronic payment and collection platform in the public domain over the past few days. As a responsible corporate citizen, we shall be making relevant statements in this regard soon. Thank you. Signed, Management”.

However, seeking to come clean of the development, System Specs explained, also on its website, that the TSA had saved Nigeria some N500b when tested under the Goodluck Jonathan administration.

“It was not until 2012 that government ran a pilot scheme for a single account using 217 ministries, department and agencies as a test case. The pilot scheme saved the country about N500 billion in frivolous spending. The success of the pilot scheme motivated the government to fully implement TSA, leading to the directives to banks to implement the technology platform that will help accommodate all MDA’s in the TSA scheme. The recent directives by President Mohammed Buhari that all government revenues should be remitted to a Treasury Single Account is in consonance with this programme and in compliance with the provisions of the 1999 constitution”, System Specs explained.

Though the TSA was tried in 2012, its full implementation started in October 2015. Accountant General of the Federation, Alhaji Ahmed Idris, had on October 16, told Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Engr, David Lawal Babachir, during a courtesy visit, that his office had started full implementation of the TSA.
“The Accountant General also informed the Secretary to the Government that since his assumption of office, he had improved on the innovations aimed at reforming the Public Fiscal Management in the Country. Some of these reforms he said include: the Treasury Single Account (TSA) , Government Integrated Financial Management Information System,(GIFMIS) Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS) and International Public Sector Accounting Standards ( IPSAS) which are aimed instilling transparency and prudence in the management of the nation’s finances and equally making Nigeria global player in public financial management in line with global standards.

“According to the Accountant General of the Federation, while his office has commenced the full implementation of the Treasury Single Account following the Presidential directive on the e-collection of all Government receipts, it will however commence full implementation of IPSAS Accrual from January 2016”, a statement signed by Mrs. K. N. Offie, a deputy director, Press, at the Accountant General’s Office.

Meanwhile, System Specs further explained that “the Central Bank has opened a Consolidated Revenue Account to receive all government revenue and effect payments through this account. This is the Treasury Single Account. All Ministries, Departments and Agencies are expected to remit their revenue collections to this account through the individual commercial banks who act as collection agents. This means that the money deposit banks will continue to maintain revenue collection accounts for MDA’s but all monies collected by these banks will have to be remitted to the Consolidated Revenue Accounts with the CBN at the end of each banking day. In other words, MDA’s accounts with money deposit banks must be zerorized at the end every banking day by a complete remittance to the TSA of all revenues collected. The implication is that banks will no longer have access to the float provided by the accounts they maintained for the MDA’s. Difference types of account could be maintained under a TSA arrangement and these may include the TSA main account, subsidiary or subaccounts, transaction accounts and zero balance account. Other types of accounts that could be operated include imprest accounts, transit accounts and correspondence accounts. These accounts are maintained for transaction purposes for funds flowing in and out of the TSA”.

–The Union

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