The Treasury Single Account and other e-governance tools would help provide transparency in public finance in the country, writes Obinna Chima
Globally, governance entails proper management of resources and the citizens for common good. To achieve that, many governments have come up with e-governance system. The ultimate goal of e-governance is to be able to offer an increased portfolio of public services to citizens in an efficient and cost effective manner.
It allows for government transparency and also helps to improve efficiency in the system. In addition, e-governance helps in building trust between governments and citizens, an essential factor in good governance by using internet-based strategies to involve citizens in the policy process, illustrating government transparency and accountability.
In Nigeria, the implementation of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) about a year ago, has been a major step towards adopting e-governance in the country. In fact, September 15, 2016, made it one full year since the President Muhammadu Buhari administration implemented the TSA policy which was initiated by his predecessor. Although its initial take-off was surrounded by a lot of controversies, just as commercial banks continue to battle with the burden of compliance, the initiative has no doubt been seen as a tool to strengthen public finance.
The TSA is a public accounting system, which collates and deposits all government revenue, receipts and income in a single account, maintained by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). It is primarily aimed at ensuring accountability of government revenue, enhancing transparency and avoiding misapplication of public funds. In the case of Nigeria, the adoption of the policy is in line with Section 80 (1) of the 1999 Constitution, which stipulates that all revenues raised or received by the Federation…shall be paid into and form one Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) of the Federation.
The Remita e-Collection is a technology platform deployed by the federal government to support the collection and remittance of all government revenue to a Consolidated Account domiciled with the CBN.
Though Section 80 (1) of the 1999 Constitution as amended states “All revenues, or other moneys raised or received by the Federation (not being revenues or other moneys payable under this Constitution or any Act of the National Assembly into any other public fund of the Federation established for a specific purpose) shall be paid into and form one Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation”; successive governments continued to operate multiple accounts for the collection and spending of government revenue in flagrant disregard to the provision of the constitution which requires that all government revenues be remitted into a single account.
It was not until 2012 that government ran a pilot scheme for a single account using 217 ministries, department and agencies as a test case. The pilot scheme saved the country about N500 billion in frivolous spending. The success of the pilot scheme motivated the government to fully implement TSA, leading to the directives to banks to implement the technology platform that will help accommodate all MDA’s in the TSA scheme, according to a report by the Stalwart.
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, recently said the TSA has helped to promote the President Muhammadu Buhari administration’s fight against corruption and saved Nigeria from imminent collapse. He also said the initiative has also helped in the elimination of ghost workers in the public service.
Also, Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun recently said the TSA had provided the government financial information on the revenues of agencies it funds, reducing revenue suppression.
“This information is being used to drive our programme to enforce compliance with the Fiscal Responsibility Act and ensure that revenue generating agencies generate expected surpluses and remit to the federal purse,” Adeosun explained.