As Nigeria struggles to play catch up with advanced nations of the world that have made ICT their mainstay, its successful implementation of a Treasury Single Account (TSA) policy continues to attract the attention of stakeholders in the industry, both home and abroad. Recently, Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed admitted that the TSA had averted Nigeria’s imminent collapse and stemmed the tide of corruption.
Renowned Indigenous ICT provider SystemSpecs is credited with inventing the acclaimed Remita software with which the Federal Government successfully implemented the policy. The software aggregates multiple bank accounts and payment options, easing the hassle associated with the payment process for major billers and the general public.
Only recently, CSR-in-Action, a not-for-profit committed to promoting sustainability and corporate social responsibility in Nigeria, hosted a SystemSpecs Executive Director, Mr. Deremi Atanda on its periodic Good Citizen tweet meet. He shared his insights on the policy and the controversy surrounding the remittances allegedly owed SystemSpecs 16 months after the revolutionary ecollection and payment system was introduced.
The TSA is “a set of linked accounts maintained by government to have clear visibility on its transactions,” Atanda explained. He said the policy had been implemented by many countries across the globe with significant benefits which include strict government control over its finances such that all transactions, both payment and receipt, are thoroughly monitored.
In 2011, SystemSpecs was engaged to provide the TSA payment technology following a rigorous selection process. The software provider worked with a team of experts drawn from the CBN and the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation (OAGF) to deliver the daunting first phase of the project in less than three months. Ever since, the adoption of the policy has ensured transparency in government’s financial transactions, eliminated bottlenecks and automated payment processing in the system.
“Government transactions are no longer limited to office hours, as suppliers and citizens can be paid or pay anytime. Ultimately, government can easily plan on available funds and know actual funding gaps [with] great reduction in local borrowing cost,” disclosed Atanda.
He emphasised that Nigerians equally stand to benefit immensely from the TSA implementation as it eases the hassle of travelling long distances to make payments, opening up vast opportunities in retail banking and ICT innovation if government refocuses its attention on information technology from the traditional crude oil.
Meanwhile, the controversy surrounding the unpaid remittances of the TSA service providers – SystemSpecs and the commercial banks – lingers. Atanda disclosed that “all service providers are yet to be paid for TSA collections,” an impasse which he said is unfounded since “fees are contractual.”
He maintained that SystemSpecs’ 1% service charge is minimal, compared to other local and international Fintech platforms offering related services. “A 1% transaction fee was agreed by all parties in the contract, though it could go as high as 3.5% in other climes. Interestingly, some government schemes were charging well above 5% before the TSA came on board,” Atanda explained.