16 November 2012

Nigeria: U.S. Shows Interest in Excess Crude Account Management

The United States of America Thursday expressed interest in the management of Nigeria's Excess Crude Account (ECA), which was created to serve as buffer against exogenous shocks.

The ECA had been a subject of controversy in recent times as it had been depleted in order to either shore-up monthly revenue shortfalls or is shared among the tiers of government for other purposes.

Critics have argued that there was no crisis to demand most withdrawals.

Speaking in Abuja, during a visit to the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF), Mr. Jonah Otunla, US Embassy scribe, Mr. Douglas Climan, said he was interested in understanding the budgeting and operation of the Federation Account.

Specifically, he asked to know the modalities for withdrawals from the ECA and how the unspent balance of capital was managed.

The ECA is the excess revenue above the budgeted oil benchmark rule and currently stood at about $9.5 billion.

Recently, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had also expressed concern over the indiscriminate withdrawals from ECA.

A statement signed by Deputy Director, Press, Office of the AGF, Mr. Charles Nwodo, a copy which was made available to THISDAY, also quoted the head of the US Economic Affairs team as saying that he was quite optimistic that 2013 budget would be passed before 2012 fiscal year.

Meanwhile, Otunla, in his earlier remarks, said the introduction and adoption of Government Integrated Fiscal Management System (GIFMIS)as well as Public Accounting System were policies aimed at strengthening economic management and deal with corruption and weak governance.

He said the GIFMIS which commenced in April was an IT based system for budget management and accounting that had been implemented to improve public expenditure management process and enhance greater accountability and transparency across ministries and agencies.

The treasury boss also said 108 Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) were currently on GIFMIS.

Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS), Government Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS), improvement in Cash Management System through Treasury Single Account (TSA), and other non-financial Reforms, have greatly improved the nation's Financial Management System and accountability "this is a module of GIFMIS which began with seven MDAs as pilot project, and since the inception, about 45,000 ghost workers have been detected."

It has helped in manpower planning and budgeting; how many people are on the payroll of government and the cost implication."

Meanwhile, an updated statement from the office had expunged Climan's interest in the management of the nation's resources.

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