TSA : CBN Gov Claims Ignorance Of N8bn Charges | Independent Newspapers Limited
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TSA : CBN Gov Claims Ignorance Of N8bn Charges

Posted: Dec 10, 2015 at 9:30 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, yesterday told the Senate that he was ignorant of the N8 billion remittances paid to SystemSpec, the owner of Remita, for the handling of the Treasury Single Account (TSA). Similarly, the Accountant- General of the Federal (AGF), Mr. Ahmed Idris, said he had no knowledge of the one per cent approved charge for Remita. Emefiele and Idris made the denials while responding to questions from the Senate Committees on Finance, Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions, and Public Accounts, investigating the alleged N25 billion scam.

The Joint Committee, chaired by Senator John Enoh (PDP, Cross River Central), lashed at the heads of the CBN and the OAGF, for agreeing to a one per cent charge of remittance with Remita. The committee won-dered why the government offices, which should be experts in the field, could claim not to be aware of the huge amount one per cent would translate to. The CBN Governor, however, told senators, who subjected him to intense interrogation that he was ignorant of the transaction, claimed that it was the motion on the floor of the Senate that drew his attention to the charges.

He said that as soon as he investigated the matter, following the resolution of the Senate and discovered the whopping amount involved, he immediately directed the company to quickly refund the money, which, he said, that the service provider complied with promptly. He explained that the Remita platform was only used to transfer about N800 billion before the fees were suspended and the monies already collected asked to be refunded. His words: “The truth is that I will like to confess that I did not really know, because I have to say what I know.

I did not know that there is one per cent charge being taken on that account until the Senate and the House of Representatives raised it when we were summoned to the office of the Senate President. “I sounded very surprised at that session and I promised that I was going to look into it. Indeed, I asked who is Mr. John Obaro and what is this N25 billion about.

I am very surprised because I didn’t know anything about it. “It was immediately after that, that I swung into action and I discovered that the issue raised in the Office of the Senate President was right and I immediately called the Managing Director of Remita to find out who he was, and I insisted that the money had to be reversed. Immediately after that, it was reversed.” Emefiele further said:

“It was after the money was moved from the commercial banks to the CBN that the one per cent was taken. However, the monies realised have been put together by the three companies involved and paid back to the ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).” He, however, stressed that the one per cent charge by the company was too exorbitant. The CBN boss further explained that the company, SystemSpec, which designed the platform ‘Remita’ was to take 50 per cent of the fee while the commercial banks got 40 per cent and the CBN kept the remaining 10.

He explained that as at December 8, the TSA remittances amounted to N2.08 trillion. Out of this amount, he said that Remita raked in N1.419 trillion while the CBN collected the sum of N269.7 billion. Reacting to questions from senators on the agreement signed, Idris said that he was not aware of any agreement between the CBN, the OAGF and Systemspecs. Idris said that he had refused to sign the document requesting for payment of the one per cent to the company and, as such, blamed the CBN for the payment.

He said: “Since my assumption as AGF, no monies have been sent via the OAGF. There was no agreement between the OAGF and the Central Bank. I am not part and my office is not part of this payment. “We have not engaged anybody and have not paid anybody.

I have also said what I know. We did not even know how much was charged. If the CBN Governor says he does not know, then how will the Accountant-General know?” However, in a seeming contradiction, Idris stressed that the services of the company was highly needed at the present time since the current government did not have the expertise to provide the kind of services being provided by Remita. In his own presentation, the Managing Director of SystemSpecs, Obaro, said that the use of Remita started in 2012 with 116 MDAs.

He said that the agreement for the fees was reached in 2013 by a committee comprising the CBN, OAGF, the commercial banks and System- Specs at a price of 2.5 per cent, which was reduced to one per cent later. Obaro said that the use of Remita software had increased transparency with provision of online real time account balances of all MDAs. He said that even officers who approve payments were documented as well as those to whom such payments were made, insisting that the company had a valid contract with the CBN and the charges were as agreed to.