Sunday, September 27, 2015

MDAs Plot Against TSA, Resort To Bulk Cash Transactions

The implementation of the Treasury Single Account ( TSA) as a method of checking corruption, advancing accountability and transparency in the remittances of accruable revenues into government coffers by all revenue generating agencies seems to have been defeated, following attempts by some agencies of government in collaboration with some bank executives to circumvent the process.

LEADERSHIP Weekend investigations reveals that the revenue generating agencies have now created different independent accounts, where revenues generated are paid into and later withdrawn, deductions made and the balances of the monies they have decided to pay into the TSA brought in cash to the banks in connivance with bank officials.

That way, they have discarded the e-transactions method which can be tracked, apparently a new corrupt way of short changing government in the remittances of revenues they generate.

Sources in some of the revenue generating agencies told our correspondent that these deliberate attempts are perpetrated mostly by the those in the accounts and audit departments of the affected agencies.

Naira-NotesA staff of one of the agencies told LEADERSHIP Weekend that “what you are saying is possible and, it is carried out by people in the accounts departments as well as audit, they are basically the people who operate these accounts.

“I became aware of this sharp practices last week, when monies generated from duties and other taxable items were put into a different account, the idea is to withdraw it cash and pay what they want to pay into the TSA,” the staff said.

Asked if the receipts issued can not be used to ascertain the exact amount collected, the source said, “that is why I told you that it is a deal involving those in accounts and audit, in connivance with the banks. If the banks do not cooperate, it will not work, but they are all working together”.

It was also gathered that some consulting firms used by some of the agencies to collect revenues on their behalf were actually the architects of this new wave of corruption.

Another source told our correspondent that the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, does not have the capacity to monitor revenues generated by the agencies, and that only external auditors from the office of the Auditor General of the Federation, in collaboration with security agencies that can track the movement of such funds and nip it in the bud.

According to the source, “these agencies as well as the banks are not happy with the TSA policy and they will always device a means of short changing government and I tell you the CBN can not stop them.

“The position of the constitution is that all revenues is supposed to go into the federation account. That is what the constitution says, but what the agencies were doing was to generate revenue, spend what they want to spend, what they feel like which the President wants to stop. But now they have deviced another means of doing the same thing. It is happening in this organisation and it is unfortunate,” he added.

However, further investigation by LEADERSHIP Weekend mid-week, revealed that some of the government MDAs may indeed be guilty of flouting the government’s directive on TSA. But one common trend is that most of the guilty agencies were very discreet about it and even the officials were not ready to open up on whatever reason or internal challenges they may be having that prompted them to somewhat undermine the TSA policy, so as to enable them have access to some of the revenue funds in other to attend to whatever internal needs they have.

When our reporter visited one of the frontline government revenue Organisation in Wuse area of Abuja, a staff in the accounts department confessed to LEADERSHIP Weekend anonymously, that the agency has actually not been fully complying with the new official policy on TSA because “this Organisation will always need some funds to meet some mandatory recurrent expenditure for the smooth running of this place so that it can continue to generate more money for government”.

The staff also explained that it was actually not deliberate on the part his management to flout the directive of government on the TSA, but a way of discreetly navigating out of the hurdles the TSA policy may have placed on their way, especially as it relates to internal operational liquidity needs.

Though he did not want to go into the details of how the affected agency has been handling the TSA issue, he assured that the measures so far adopted by the management in mitigating the TSA hurdle has no propensity to vitiate or subvert the policy. He told LEADERSHIP Weekend that: “ There will always be cash needs for operational purposes and if we follow the policy strictly, we may not have the resources to meet those needs for the purpose of making that money for government. No law or rule should be observed in the extreme. If you consider the bureaucratic protocol involved in getting already remitted funds approved for our internal operations, then you will know that we can not avoid bulk cash transactions, TSA or no TSA”.

It was however gathered by LEADERSHIP Weekend that some management of the affected agencies gave false impression to their staff members who have raised eyebrows about the implication of not fully complying with the TSA policy, saying that government gave them some form of reprieve after they had made a strong case for their organizations. But this claim however could not be confirmed as at the time of going to press.

Some monetary policy analysts and economic pundits who offered comments to LEADERSHIP Weekend on this curious development on the official directive on TSA, were of the opinion that the federal government must endeavor to fish out the alleged culprit MDAs who are said to be presently violating the order on Treasury Single Account (TSA). One of them, an Abuja based Development Economist and Chief Executive Officer of SeaRoute Communications Limited, Mrs Juliet Okafor, however told LEADERSHIP Weekend that government should move swiftly to halt this burgeoning trend if the TSA policy must work.

Okafor stated that if some of the MDAs are still engaging in bulk cash transactions, it sounds an early death kneel for the new TSA policy. Her words: “ If some of the MDAs of government are still not complying with the order on TSA, it simply means that all the accruable revenues are still not going to the government treasury according the spirit of the TSA. It also means that the leakages are yet to be effectively blocked. And it also means that the war against corruption is going to be a lost battle in the MDAs.

“Therefore, the federal government have a duty to thoroughly investigate this allegation against the MDAs and bring to book whichever agency that is guilty of this infraction and publicly inflict the appropriate punishment on them as a way of serving as a deterrent to others. The government should set example by making scape goat of one the MDAs so that others can learn their lessons. The problem we are having in this country is that there are incorrigible and corrupt officials of government who believe in subverting the well intentioned policies and agenda of government for their own self aggrandizement. This change era certainly has zero tolerance for such officials,” Okafor stated.

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