Simon Ech — Implementation of The Treasury Single Account by the federal government is currently creating hiccups among some of its ministries and agencies. However, as President Muhammadu Buhari's government said there is no going back on the new system,some MDAs are coming up with initiatives to enable them cope.
Almost four months since the full commencement by the President Muhammadu Buhari's administration of the Treasury Single Account (TSA), stories are unfolding at the various Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
While working on the implementation of the TSA, following the presidential directive, the Accountant General of Federation (AGF), Ahmed Idris, assured that the policy will boost revenue collection,block leakages and ensure transparency and timely disbursement of funds to beneficiaries.
He said it would also pave way for the timely capture and payment of all revenues into appropriate accounts of government.
However, while some of the promises the AGF made of blocking leakages are succeeding, releasing money to run government activities is becoming difficult and most MDAs have had to reorganize their accounting processes to comply with the presidential directive.
Our investigations revealed that some activities are suffering at some MDAs over the teething problems of the TSA in checking financial leakages,though others have moved on with various initiatives to help them implement the policy; with others grounded with no activities beside payment of salaries and allowances. And some heads of parastatals already getting red alert over failure to comply with the new process.
Some staff of MDAs told Daily Trust in confidence that the TSA delayed release of funds needed to carry out their responsibilities. A staff of the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment disclosed that the TSA has affected the activities of the ministry.
"The name of this ministry now is 'no money'. Everything you apply for, they will say no money," the source told Daily Trust.
The situation was not different at the National Pension Commission(PenCom) where Daily Trust's investigation showed that the TSA is being blamed by some staff for delays in release of funds.
A staff disclosed that there have been delays in release of funds to settle bills for even stationeries needed to run the commission. He told Daily Trust that but for funds generated through registrations, the TSA would have been a major hindrance to last World Pension Summit-hosted by the commission as there were delays in release of funds needed for the event.
He however said that the situation was improving daily as the accounts department seemed to be finding a way around the problem.
Similarly, a source at the Ministry of Budget and National Planning admitted that the TSA affects prompt release of funds.
He noted that the worst hit are the revenue generating agencies and ministries as the excess revenues generated cannot be easily diverted on the guise of fictitious expenditures. He however warned that delays must be avoided in trying to sort out genuine expenditures from fictitious ones.
In the oil and gas sector, a source in the regulatory arm of the agency told our correspondent that the Staff Cooperative Society has not been funded since last year making it difficult for staff to access fund for various uses.
He said subsidiary business units of the NNPC are also affected by the cash strapped Staff Cooperative Society predicament created by the TSA.
The source also revealed that operators in the oil and gas industry that want to renew their operation permits have been bogged down by the regime of the TSA.
At the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), a top official told Daily Trust that the agency was finding it very difficult to embark on many of its projects because of the TSA.
"Since the commencement of the TSA,we have had to cut down on so many projects and programmes. The scholarships we give to students have also reduced and I can go on and on", the NITDA staff who pleaded anonymity said.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is allegedly investigating the Director General of National Broadcasting Commission(NBC) over the failure of the agency to comply with the TSA.
TSA the only way to go
In the aviation industry, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA)said the Treasury Single Account (TSA) introduced by the federal government has made their operations easier.
However, sources within the organisation told our reporter that the initiative has blocked avenues for siphoning funds.
Speaking on the initiative, the Managing Director of FAAN, Engr. Saleh Dunoma, explained that the agency had not only keyed into the TSA but equally eradicated all forms of cash handling by hands except at the toll gate.
"Now we have International Air Transport Association (IATA), for example, collecting all the landing and parking charges and the passengers service charge on our behalf. And every two weeks this money is transferred to FAAN account.
"Now with the Treasury Single Account (TSA), it goes straight to the Central Bank, so we access it from there to pay our salaries and do other things. At the tollgate, some people are doing a study for us. We will implement it and even at the tollgate we will not have cash," he said.
At NAMA, the Director of Finance and Accounts, Mrs. Clara Aliche,said the agency "remains one of the first agencies in the sector to successfully migrate and implement the Treasury Single Account to the extent that we even paid October 2015 salaries through TSA.
"Presently all NAMA financial transactions are carried out through the TSA. Payments made by airlines through the banks are received instantly and uploaded into the agency's TSA through REMITA platform,"she said.
At the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF)its spokesman, Mr. Kalu Otisi, said, "TSA has not in any way inhibited the processing of payments to the best of my knowledge. I think it's a very good policy, in the final analysis all MDAs and all those who keyed into it will come to realize the benefit in terms of having a coherent payment system for the federal government."
At the Ministry of Solid Minerals, sources informed Daily Trust that it is no longer business as usual given the stance of the minister, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, as a no-nonsense man, it became imperative for the ministry to fully comply with the directive.
Similarly, the Acting Post Master General of the Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST), Architect Enoch Ade Ogun, said TSA is not hindering activities of NIPOST in any way.
Ogun said in an interview in Abuja said "so we do not experience any delay in accessing funds."
Also, a source at the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) said" We carry on our activities as before; if anything, it is better now than before. So we don't know what you are talking about."
But sources at the Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC),
Nigerian Communications Satellite Limited (NIGCOMSAT) and National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP) hinted that the TSA is affecting their operations.
A source at the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation who spoke to our correspondent under condition of anonymity confirmed that they are having some issues with accounts of some MDAs.
"Yes we are having issues with the platform but if you want specific details, you can get that from the Accountant General's office or his spokesperson," the source said.
When contacted, the AGF, Mr. Ahmed Idris,however told our correspondent at the side lines of the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee meeting (FAAC) that there is no challenge with the accounts of MDAs as far as he is concerned.
"All the MDAs are having access to their accounts," he said.
With the introduction of the TSA last September, agencies in the power sector have taken to doing transactions more online, Daily Trust has learnt.
An official who spoke at the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing(Power), said "the TSA is working for us as it ensures that all transactions are well verified."
Other officials at the agencies variously said the TSA online payment platform has caused mandatory compliance with the technological age.
At the Nigerian Electricity Management Services Agency (NEMSA), a source said: "For us now, it is two ways we do things now especially for payments. We can either pay by cash or go through the online means. We do not have any problem or delay in transaction with the TSA platform. The officer can raise the money through the TSA and pay by cash."
"We have been making payment through the online platform. At times, we experience some delay mostly because of the network issue. But beside that I think the policy is working for us," a source at the National Power Training Institute of Nigeria (NAPTIN) said.
For Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC), an official said: "We do not experience issues making transactions through the TSA platform. So long as all your documents are right, we take them to the platform; they will verify and then pay the sum. He lauded the policy saying, "The only thing now is that, there is now a second layer of checking public transactions which I believe is good for transparency."
Sources at the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) said they had issues with the TSA initially especially when their salaries were delayed in the later months of 2015. They said the commission has understudied the process and is doing better in line with the present administration's transparency initiative.
Hamisu Muhammad, Ademola Adebayo, Chris Agabi, Zakariyya Adaramola, Francis Arinze Iloani