The Accountant-General of the Federation (AGF), Mr. Ahmed Idris, wednesday said the federal government would soon begin payment of staff salaries by the 25th of every month, as directed by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Idris, who disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja, said: “This is going to be given a test, I believe, by this month.’’
The AGF also said the government was working on a new arrangement, which if approved, would ensure payment of salaries before the monthly meeting of the Federal Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC). According to him, usually, salaries are paid after the FAAC meeting, where revenue accruing to the federation’s account are shared between the federal, state and local governments.
“There is a standing instruction the president to pay salary on or before 24th or 25th of every month and we will try as much as possible to comply and to abide by that.
“We are taking a step further to make a provision whereby we can accommodate salary payments even before FAAC.
“This is going to be given a test I believe by this month.
“We will go to seek for necessary approval of our political masters to make sure that at least salary and other statutory payments are made even before FAAC.
“Because we can project how much they are and therefore we can prepare and hit the ground running to make them realisable and actualised.
“Even where we delay FAAC, we can still pay salary,’’ he said.
Idris dispelled the widely held belief that the Treasury Single Account (TSA) policy is responsible for the delay in the payment of salaries and attributed the situation to the crash in global oil prices, which has affected the inflow of income to the country.
“Nigeria is practically making about 30 to 40 per cent of what it used to make by way of revenue from oil and that has affected inflow generally.
“These inflows are what the federal, state and local governments receive to service the economy.
“It is when we receive these resources and sit at the end of the month for FAAC that the resources are shared among the three tiers of government,” Idris noted.
Citing the benefits of TSA, Idris said more than N2.7 trillion had been realised under a single account domiciled at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
He also said the cost of borrowing by government agencies had been reduced substantially and that the economy was already a beneficiary of the policy.
“The monies are stimulating the economy in a way that delivery of social goods, services and efficiency in government expenditure are being achieved.
“So I believe that they are already serving the purpose for which they are meant and they are within the economy,’ the AGF stated.
He said he was optimistic having seen the benefits of the TSA policy to the federal government, states governments would key into it.
Idris said any insinuation that the policy would lead to laying off of staff by deposit money banks was unfounded as the policy was not intended to disrupt the operations of those banks.
He, therefore, advised commercial banks to re-strategise on how to make profit without relying on government funds.
“I think banks need to really focus themselves and re-direct themselves to face traditional banking business and not rely heavily on public resources.
“They should be more strategic and focused and I believe that they will be better for it,’’ he noted.
The TSA policy was introduced in September 2015 to ensure that government resources are centralised in a single account.
It was introduced to block leakages in the system to ensure transparency and efficiency in the management of government resources.