By Ugo Aliogo
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation (OAGF) are in active engagement to resolve the issue of fees payable based on existing contract to the federal government’s Treasury Single Account (TSA) platform provider and commercial banks.
The engagement comes six months after the platform providers and the commercial banks were directed to hand over processing fees for services already provided and further instructed to stop charging for TSA revenue collection services to the federal government.
The CBN had via a letter, dated October 27, 2015, signed by the Director of Banking and Payments Systems Department, Dipo Fatokun, directed SystemSpecs Limited, the providers of the federal government TSA platform to return all fees earned since the inception of the project.
In the letter, Fatokun said: “I have been directed to inform you that you should refund all charges made in to MDAs accounts as a result of the implementation of the TSA.”
Fatokun concluded, “Please note that you are required to comply with the above directive latest by Wednesday, October 26, 2015.”
Although the issue has remained unresolved, the platform providers and commercial banks have continued to provide their services to the government.
A reliable source at CBN confirmed to THISDAY receipt of a report from the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation and also the Minister of Finance at different times communicating the recommendations of a joint CBN-OAGF committee set up to review and advise government on the lingering issue.
The apex bank source admitted that SystemSpecs and the commercial banks have not been paid for their services since the start of TSA e-Collections. It was confirmed that CBN had received several correspondence from the service provider requesting for payment of outstanding transaction fees and requesting for the commencement of charges in line with its subsisting contract.
“We have received two letters from Remita in the last three weeks asking for payment of their fee arrears and notice of resumption of charges,” the source said.
According to Deremi Atanda, a senior executive at SystemSpecs, “We have been talking to CBN, Accountant General of the Federation and Ministry of Finance, and we expect this issue to be resolved soon as it is becoming increasingly difficult to continue to provide services without being paid.”
While the CBN and the AGF are believed to be disposed to upholding the terms of the Remita contract which has been in place since 2013 and which the federal government has consistently said helped to mop up trillions of Naira into the TSA over a period of six months, it appears the Senate however has a different view.
The Senate had in its report of February 2016 recommended the termination of the contract between the government and SystemSpecs, owners of the Remita platform that drives the TSA of the federal government.
Curiously, in its 42-page report of February 2016, which contained the position of Senate, the CBN was “directed” to terminate the contract with SystemSpecs while in another section of the same report, it had recommended that CBN could continue with Remita but renegotiate the charges to between N500-N700 per transaction.
THISDAY investigations reveal that this position may not be favourable to government as some MDAs have transactions with values as low as N200 e.g. handbooks, fines and penalties, certain rates and levies, etc.
The implication is that the cost of collection will be higher than actual amount collected for government.
The Senate has however continued to decline to put its fund under the TSA claiming autonomy from policies of the executive arm of government.