The news that the adoption of the Treasury Single Account (TSA), a public accounting system under which all government revenue, receipts and incomes are deposited into one single account or a network of accounts with one control by the Niger State government under the leadership of Alhaji Abubakar Sadiq Sani Bello has started yielding dividends is indeed welcome.
The state commissioner of finance Malam Ibrahim Balarabe disclosed recently that the TSA which became operational in the second quarter of this year has moped up about N424.6 million. This piece of news will no doubt gladden the heart of every progressive-minded Nigerlite, who had hitherto clamoured for the blockage and pilfering of merge resources accruing to the state.
The doubting Thomases among us who had raised eyebrows at the conception of the initiative have also been proven wrong by this piece of information. What we need are bold initiatives backed by the required political will as demonstrated by the governor through this singular act and the state will be on the path of development and growth.
It is to his credit that Governor Sani Bello realized early enough that in the face of dwindling resources occasioned by the global fall in prices of oil, which has been the mainstay of Nigeria’s economy, bold step must be taken to effectively utilize the little that comes into the state’s coffers. And like other commendable initiatives put in place to better the lots of Nigerlites since he assumed office, the TSA effort was conceived.
The governor announced his administration’s desire to adopt the TSA during the presentation of the 2016 budget to the state house of assembly early in the year. The management of the meager resources of the state, he had told the lawmakers then, “will be a priority”. “In this regard, areas of leakages and wastages will be identified and blocked accordingly. The Treasury Single Account (TSA) will become operational in the year,” he had promised.
The governor, who was also aware that operation of multiple accounts within the public sector is synonymous with corruption, also warned that his administration has zero tolerance for corruption. Few weeks after the presentation of the budget, machinery was put in motion for the introduction of the TSA with the ministry of finance spearheading the crusade. Top officials of the ministry early in March, took turns to answer questions from the accountants on the new policy.
The commissioner explained that the primary purpose of TSA is to ensure accountability of government revenue, enhance transparency and avoid misapplication of public funds. “The maintenance of a Treasury Single Account helps to ensure proper cash management by eliminating idle funds usually left with different commercial banks and in a way enhance reconciliation of revenue collection and payments of government finances,” he had noted.
Control of finances centrally, he further averred, “will ensure transparency and accountability in governance in addition to blocking of financial leakages, which often end up in private pockets.” He said the accounts that are exempt from the new initiative are those that require counterpart funding especially that the cash flows are mostly in foreign currencies. Explaining further, he said such accounts were already joint accounts that have in-built mechanisms to check leakages and other associated vices that the TSA seeks to prevent in the first place. He told his audience that the new initiative requires collective responsibility among the managers of the state finances and warned against manipulation of the system, especially among key stakeholders, which includes chief accountants, internal auditors as well as cashiers.
The emphasis was first on decentralized system because of problem associated with information technology before navigating to a centralized platform.
To perfect the system, Global Infoswift, with wide range of experience in the system, was engaged and a Memorandum of Understanding was signed by the state team led by the ministry of finance and the representatives of the private firm. Part of the understanding reached is that the firm will work with the state government to automate its entire financial management system and payment processes.
It was expected also that the firm will facilitate the selection of the payment gateway and service provider for implementation of TSA in the state even as it is also expected to facilitate selection of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) to be integrated with the selected payment gateway and keeping of the state’s financial records and transactions as well as generation of the state’s financial statement in line with best practices.
The firm was also required to train the state workforce in the handling of the operation of the TSA and ensure their perfection before finally disengaging. This is indeed a heartwarming departure from the past, encouraging corrupt enrichment by those entrusted with managing the resources of the state. The governor’s initiative is significant as complete and updated balances of fund can be verified daily through Financial Management Information System.
As the commissioner of finance also explained, the TSA also allows his ministry full control over budget allocations and equally strengthens budget appropriation instead of a fragmented system we have in the past where funds provided for budgetary appropriations are augmented by additional cash resources. The system also gives room for effective planning and implementation of budget in manner that are transparent. There will be no room for exaggerating the estimates for cash needs or channeling expenditures through off-budget arrangements.
It will also reduce bank fees and charges that are associated with multiple accounts with more funds available for projects among other benefits. It is with this understanding that the governor and the state financial managers need to be commended for this bold initiative aimed at securing our future and those of our children.
Inuwa wrote in from Chanchaga, Niger State.