Nigeria’s financial crisis yesterday showed a hint of recovery after the cash flow into government’s Treasury Single Account (TSA) rose to a whooping N4.36 trillion.
The accountant-general of the federation, Alhaji Ahmed Idris, revealed this at a workshop in Lagos with the theme: ‘‘Operation, Implementation and Challenges of Treasury Single Accounts” organised by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN).
He described the TSA as a cash planning and management tool that has helped the country to reduce inflation rate and the theft of public funds.
Idris also disclosed that the country lost a whooping sum of N70 billion to failed banks in 2011 when the country was not operating a TSA system.
Idris recalled that, in the past, ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) operated more than 10,000 accounts that were mostly dormant with balances of taxpayers’ money not utilized for the development of the country.
Idris, who was represented at the event by the deputy director, TSA Collection Funds Department, Mr Sylva Okolieaboh, explained that TSA was not just about revenue collection but rather a cash planning tool for the government.
He said, “Even if we detached accountability, transparency and anti- corruption from TSA, it is still very important. That is not the reason why government started TSA. It is an anti-corruption tool, no doubt, but it is more than that.
“We are doing TSA because, sometime in 2011 and 2012, before that time, the government of Nigeria, working with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) during Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s first tenure, carried out a broad financial reform looking at the country’s financial system and one of the things they asked us to do was to do a census of bank accounts.
“Even though restricted to mainline government ministries, we found out that among the ministries that were based in Abuja then, there were more than 10,000 bank accounts for about 30 ministries.
“It was not only the number that was the problem; the practice was that when new heads of ministries or agencies came on board, they would go and open new bank accounts based on personal interest, forgetting the previous accounts. When they open these new accounts and change signatories, whatever balances in the previous accounts remain there.
“Even the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) was coming to us to draw our attention to the accounts, telling us to come and close them.”
Another gain recorded with the TSA policy, Idris noted, is that the huge sums of money paid as interest on money borrowed from banks had since been stopped.
In his address, the president of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), Deacon Titus Soetan, described the TSA, which is an initiative of the federal government, as a bold and highly commendable move directed at quelling corruption in the public service.
Soetan said: “The implementation of the scheme would enable all government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) to remit all their revenue collections into a single account through commercial banks acting as agents. At the close of the day’s transactions, the banks are required to remit all the money collected to TSA at the CBN.
“This is a departure from the past where government revenues were collected through several segmented channels, given rise to leakages in the revenue collection chain.”