Thursday, 25 February 2016

Senate directs CBN to terminate Systemspecs’ TSA contract

Senate has asked the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, to terminate the contract for the collection of revenue by Systemspecs under the Treasury Single Account, TSA. Systemspecs is an erevenue collection firm, which was engaged by the Federal Government to assist it with the collection of all federal revenue into a single account. Following the recommended termination of the contract, the lawmakers consequently recommended to CBN to pay the firm N656.5m as commission for the collection of N800bn under the TSA Programme as at October last year. The lawmakers also recommended that rather than charging 1 per cent on any amount collected by Systemspecs as was the case in the contract, N700m should be paid to Systemspecs as commission on any transaction made by the company.

The above formed part of the 10-point recommendations, which were made and adopted by the senate yesterday. The recommendations were by the joint committees of the senate on Finance, Banking, Insurance and Public Accounts that were asked to carry out an investigation into the alleged N25bn commission paid to REMITA, an e-collection platform owned by Systemspecs for revenues remitted into TSA accounts last year. The joint committees was chaired by the Senate Committee Chairman on Finance, John Enoh. Part of the recommendations of the joint committees directed CBN to open up the space to other e-collection providers for competition, effectiveness, efficiency and greater robustness. Senate further directed that all agreed fees and payments for e-collection service should not be borne by MDAs but provided and disbursed from a central pool.

In his remarks after the resolutions, Senate President, Bukola Saraki said the lawmakers, move on the TSA operation was not against the idea of e-collection per se, but finding out how it is being managed to save the country from any sharp practices. Saraki said: “I think that the message we are sending out today is very clear that our interest lies in ensuring proper use of funds. This senate will stand firmly for that and this goes back to the issues where people wonder the usefulness or value of the parliament and I think this is a good example. “By this action, this country is saving close to between N22bn to over N30bn, which is higher than the appropriation of a lot of Ministries, Department and Agencies of Government, MDAs. “When motion for this investigation was raised in October last year, a lot of noise was made that it was just because the senate didn’t want to support TSA, but this report categorically applauds the TSA but the issue is that the cost of doing the transaction should not undermine the good purpose of the TSA and I think that was what we have done today “We will have to ensure that the respective agencies, particularly CBN must refund this money complying strictly with this observations and recommendations of the senate.

“It is mind boggling to see the kind of money that would have just gone away to bribing people’s hands if not because this motion came. “I want to encourage our colleagues to ensure that despite the kind of blackmail that we received in doing our work, we should follow the examples that has been shown by these three committees that when we have this sort of issues, we must stand for what we believe is right. “The work is not done yet, we must see proof that this money has been refunded, we must see proof that the contracts have been terminated and must see proofs that in going forward, the new rate for payment of commission is enforced.” When he appeared before the joint probe committees in December last year, Managing Director of Systemspecs, owner of REMITA e-collection platform, Mr. John Obaro, had explained that the 1 per cent charge was not for REMITA alone but shared along with CBN and other Deposit Money banks. This is on the ratio of 50 per cent for REMITA, 40 per cent for other Deposit Money Banks and the remaining 10 per cent for CBN. The SystemSpecs boss, who gave graphic details of how his firm ran into trouble waters with CBN over the charges, lamented that the media reports then had portrayed his firm as being used and dumped by the Federal Government on what he described as laudable exercise.

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