TSA: NCS Raises the Alarm over FG’s Non-Payment of Service Charge

0

Emma Okonji

The Nigerian Computer Society (NCS), an advocacy group of the computing profession in Nigeria has raised the alarm over the refusal of the federal government to pay the service charge accruable to SystemSpecs, the Nigerian software company that designed the Remita software currently being used for the implementation of the country’s Treasury Single Account (TSA).

President of NCS, Prof. Adesola Aderounmu, while speaking at a media briefing in Lagos at the weekend, said the service charge, which had amounted to hundreds of billions of naira, was being owed to SystemSpecs and the banks implementing the TSA on behalf of the federal government.

While listing the implications of the continuous refusal of the federal government to pay the service charge, Aderounmu called on the federal government to release all monies accruable to SystemSpecs and the implementing banks, without further delay.

“Up till now the federal government has not been able to fulfil its obligation with regards to the services rendered to her through Remita software, a product of SystemSpecs, who is a financial member of NCS,” Aderounmu said.

Addressing the implications of the non-payment of the service charge to StstemSpecs and the implementing banks, Aderounmu said: “The situation shows there is very low appreciation for indigenous innovation, intellectual property and pace setting accomplishments by government, thus creating a hostile operating environment for operators. It shows a high level of disregard for contracts entered into with indigenous firms compared with the ‘high level of respect’ accorded foreign counterparts.

“It equally shows extremely low commitment to the implementation of the ICT Local Content Policy, despite official declarations by government on local patronage.”

He added that the action of the federal government clearly showed that there was no visible attempt to stop mass exodus of exceptionally brilliant indigenous ICT skills to other countries who sell the same skills back to Nigeria at exorbitant rates, leading to capital flight.

The federal government had initially agreed to pay five per cent service charge to SystemsSpecs and the implementing banks for all TSA transactions, but reneged on the agreement when it saw the huge volume of money that was realised in the initial transactions on TSA. Government had decided to reduce the percentage from five per cent to one per cent and had directed SystemSpecs to refund four per cent of the money already paid to it and the implementing banks, and the money was returned to government.

The NCS was however worried that even the one per cent service charge payment has been withheld by the federal government, leaving SystemSpecs and the implementing banks with nothing.

Aderounmu, therefore called on government to consider the earlier agreement reached and make efforts to remit funds due to SystemSpecs, which he said, had suffered undue hardship following the non-release of TSA service charge, yet the federal government is enjoying the services of Remita in TSA transactions.

President Muhammadu Buhari had last year, said the implementation of the Treasury Single Account had put an end to the pilfering of the country’s treasury with billions of naira saved from maintenance fees payable to banks.