Nigeria rejigs TSA technology for efficiency

By Kokumo Goodie, Lagos, Nigeria

The Nigerian government says it is taking note of the shortcomings in the Treasury Single Account (TSA) with a view to correcting it to make it serve the country better.

TSA is powered by Remita and was developed by SystemSpecs, an indigenous technology firm.

The Accountant-General of the Federation (AGF), Alhaji Ahmed Idris, told journalists in Abuja, Nigeria’s political capital, during the retreat on TSA that the government is working to improve on the deployment of technology and modern apps to solve all the challenges that are rearing their heads as the TSA implementation takes firmer root.

He said:  "Right now, we are talking with some programme developers, because we observed that for teaching hospitals and universities, there are endowment funds, there are third party funds and there are funds that are not meant as holding funds. We deploy technology to seep out those funds separate from normal conventional revenues."

He said Accountant-General’s Office (AGFO) has stopped N4.7 billion being incurred as cost of keeping the accounts of ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) of the Federal Government at huge cost of borrowing through over drafts, and other charges monthly.

“The OAGF has been able to track government revenue, we have been able to see revenue inflow and that has helped us to harness our revenue in that direction. We have been able to stop leakages because some of these over 20,000 accounts were not even known to some agencies that owned them, and TSA has brought about transparency in terms of delivery," he said.

Speaking to concerns expressed in some section of the economy that TSA has led to job cuts by financial institutions in the country, Idris quipped: "Banks are never created to hold public funds or government funds virtually for free. No! That is not banking. Nowhere in the world are banks relying on public funds to survive. So, banks are now becoming more innovative and that innovation is what will bring them back to business and I believe very soon, retrenchment in the sector will be a thing of the past and they will be looking for people to employ because they are now focused on doing what they are supposed to do."

TSA full implementation commenced September 2015. About N5.244 trillion has so far accrued to the account while accruals keep increasing daily.

He said the government plans to start funding the budget from this huge accruals which have be sitting idly in the vaults of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for the well-being of the citizens of the oil producing West African nation ravaged by the first recession in 25 years.

 "The policy has helped to reduce the amount of borrowed funds by government, there is need to have a mechanism that would allow the balances in TSA to be used in a profitable manner for budget execution. The implementation of the policy has been successful, there is need to harness the immense potentials of the initiative in budgeting and debt management.

“The TSA is one of the critical aspects of our reforms. Beyond mere cash management, there is need to look particularly in this time of recession to see how best we can deploy the large balances that we have been keeping with CBN for the betterment of the economy.

"Stakeholders will continue to talk and we would be advising government appropriately. It is not something that we will do tomorrow we have to sit on how we deploy them profitably into very efficient and very viable instruments. So all that needs to be worked out," Idris said.

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