The Federal Government on Tuesday directed all its Ministries, Departments and Agencies to close their revenue accounts with Deposit Money Banks latest by February 28. The government gave the directive while unveiling an electronic revenue collection platform aimed at checking theft, diversion of collected revenue and all sorts of corrupt practices associated with revenue collection. The balances in the revenue accounts, it said, should be transferred to the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federal Government. It warned that any MDA that failed to comply with the directive by the end of February would be appropriately sanctioned.
The Accountant-General of the Federation, Mr. Jonah Otunla, disclosed these in Abuja at a workshop to sensitise the MDAs to the commencement of the electronic revenue collection project. The implementation of the project, he stated, began on January 1 this year and that it was meant to enthrone a new regime of centralised, transparent and accountable internally generated revenue management system. The House of Representatives had in an investigative report on unremitted revenue last year said that 60 revenue generating agencies of the Federal Government failed to remit over N9.4tn to the coffers of the government between 2009 and 2012.
The Chairman, House Committee on Finance, Abulmumin Jibrin, had said of the N3.06tn the agencies generated in 2009, only N46.8bn, or 1.53 per cent was remitted to the government. In 2010, the sum of N3.07tn was generated, but N54.1bn or 1.76 per cent was remitted; and in 2011, the generated figure stood at N3.17tn, out of which only N73.8bn or 2.33 per cent was remitted.
Otunla said going forward, the new platform would improve the availability of funds for financing of developmental projects and budgets as well as plugging loopholes in government revenue collection and management. He said the commencement of the e-collection platform was a product of series of treasury reforms that began in 2012 and aimed at ensuring transparency and accountability in the management of the nation’s resources. The reforms, he stated, led to the introduction of the Government Integrated Financial Management Information System and the Treasury Single Account.
Otunla said, “We have rolled out the GIFMIS and TSA implementation. At inception, a total of 93 agencies were enrolled and as of today, we have about 551, which is about three quarter of the total budget of the federation. “We have yet to realise the full potential of the reforms. Some big budget MDAs to wit the National Assembly, National Judicial Council, the armed forces and some other autonomous agencies have been reluctant to be brought into the GIFMIS and TSA process. “The implication of this is that substantial cash resources of the government are still lying idle at a time when our cash flow is facing a lot of challenges. In the face of the cash flow problem, we need to be more creative. We can enhance the performance of the budget by either improving revenue or reducing costs.”
The accountant-general added, “Our efforts this morning on the e-collection of revenue is a revenue enhancing programme by freeing more funds for budget performance. We are perfecting a system of collection. We are not perfecting a system depriving the commercial banks of income.
“So, we just want to make revenue collection a little more efficient; but in the process, it might influence the inflow to the commercial banks and that’s why the Central Bank of Nigeria is playing a pivotal role.”
Shedding more light on the new revenue collection platform, the Director, Funds, Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation, Mr. Mohammed Dikwa, said, henceforth, government revenues would now be paid into the CRF/TSA at the central bank through any branch of the DMBs.
He said, “A treasury circular on e-collection will be issued next week. With the coming of e- collection, MDAs can no longer maintain revenue bank accounts with commercial banks. You are, therefore, advised to transfer any outstanding balance in your RBA to the CRF and immediately commence the processes of closing them.
“The MDAs are given up to February 28, 2015 to close the RBAs. Appropriate sanctions shall be applied against any MDA that fails to comply.”
To ensure the successful implementation of the project, Dikwa explained that a multi-stakeholder committee comprising the OAGF, CBN and representatives of all the commercial banks was set up to agree on the implementation plans and timelines.