FG Completes Investigations into 534 Whistle-blower Cases, Recovers N145bn

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• TSA grosses N8.9tn in three years

By Ndubuisi Francis in Abuja

The federal government has completed investigations into 534 cases and made recoveries totalling about N145 billion in various currencies, including N7.8 billion, US$378 million and £27,800 since the Whistleblower Policy made its debut in 2016.

It has also received 1,231 tips, carried out 791 investigations with 534 completed , and referred  40 to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) and the Department of State Services (DSS).

The Director (Special Projects)/Secretary, Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit (PICA), Dr. Mohammed Dikwa, provided the update at the weekend at a seminar organised by the Ministry of Finance for financial journalists.

Dikwa disclosed that PICA had led to the removal of over 50,000 ghost workers from the federal government payroll while 800 ex-employees of government collecting salaries from various ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) were stopped.

According to him, 400 staff from different MDAs collecting double salaries were identified and recovered, just as 30,000 staff on the payroll not in the nominal roll of MDAs are being verified.

He said: “Over 32,000 employee records on IPPIS (Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System) with pension and other deficiencies are being presently investigated.”

Dikwa stated that about 12,024 staff collect their salaries in non-commercial banks, adding: “The number of non-commercial banks involved was 75, comprising 62 microfinance banks, seven mortgage banks, three finance companies, 2 Bureaux de Change and 1 development finance Institution.

“A total of 681 employees used more than one salary account (changing from one salary account to another and with all the accounts held with non commercial banks),” he said.

Also in his presentation, the Accountant-General of the Federation (AGF), Alhaji Ahmed Idris, disclosed that the Treasury Single Account (TSA) had recorded N8.9 trillion gross inflow to date with 1,674 MDAs enrolled since full implementation commenced in September 2015 by the present administration.

Idris, who was represented by the Director/Coordinator,TSA/e- Collection (Funds Department), Mr. Sylva Okolieaboh, said since its implementation, TSA had led to savings of over N40 billion monthly in Ways and Means charges.

The AGF, whose presentation was captioned: “The TSA: A Veritable Tool for Transparency and Accountability in Public Financial Management,’ said the TSA was imbued with such advantages as the ability to determine consolidated federal government cash position, and improved monetary policy implementation through the elimination of costs associated with liquidity management arising from deposit money banks (DMBs).

It also offers better traction in inflation management through reduction in Ways and Means and money supply, significant improvement in federal government liquidity position, improved budget implementation due to enhanced liquidity, and better control and oversight over MDAs’ operations, he said..

However, Idris pointed out that the TSA was fraught with implementation challenges, which have institutional, operational and technological colouration.

According to him, institutional challenges are experienced as capacity deficit, lack of clarity in stakeholder roles, conflicting directives and signals, institutional resistance based on limited understanding of TSA, and non-enrolment of key arms of government such as the National Assembly.

Idris also listed the operational challenges of TSA as lump sum transfer of MDAs’ balances by DMBs, transfer/payment to wrong TSA (Sub) accounts, difficulty in accessing bank statements and associated reconciliation issues, difficulties in processing foreign currency receipts and payments as well as multiplicity of sub-accounts.

Technological challenges also include limited IT infrastructure leading to slow consummation of transactions and generation of reports, lack of robust data management system for analysis and decision-making, non-implementation of spending limit controls by extra-budgetary entities/funds, and lack of robust reporting and budget implementation capabilities.

The AGF disclosed that prior to the full implementation of TSA, there were multiple bank accounts totalling over 17,000 and countless dormant accounts with huge balances, as well as inability to determine consolidated cash position of government.

He stressed that there also  existed a problem of borrowing and incurring charges when there were idle balances in MDAs’ accounts as well as lack of coordination among key fiscal agencies.

The AGF noted that poor cash planning, inability to fund government budget, and non/delayed remittance of revenue/collections were rife, adding that over N70 billion of federal government funds were lost to failed banks.