Nigeria’s Finance Minister, Madam Kemi Adeosun has expressed confidence in the 2016 budget and the Treasury Single Account (TSA), to help turn around the country’s economy by plugging leaks that have plagued the financial system.
Madam Adeosun believes that funds recovered recently through the TSA scheme, had raised the hope of generating additional revenues from government agencies as against what obtained when the TSA was not fully implemented.
The Finance Minister was speaking on Thursday during the 2016 budget defence of agencies and departments under the Federal Ministry of Finance, at the Senate.
She said the ongoing revelations about the actual revenues generated by some agencies, were vindicating government’s position that non-oil revenues in the Nigerian economy were much more significant than earlier imagined.
“It is because TSA swept in all those revenues that many of these agencies are now being forced to say that actually, this is our real revenues, and we are finding it across the board and that is what gives this economy hope that, this oil down turn has forced us for the first time to look at our non-oil revenues and if we can harness them properly, we can ride out this economic storm, and that is just one example.
I can assure you that we have looked at more agencies. When we look at their TSA balance, it’s huge but when we look at the revenue they have been declaring, it’s very small. So, we are now saying that they have clearly been generating far more revenues than they have been declaring,” Adeosun stressed.
The Finance Minister also hinted that 23,000 suspected cases were currently being investigated for varying degrees of irregularities and malpractices regarding the Staff Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS).
According to her, the bank customers biometric verification exercise has facilitated the plugging of more leakages, as more than 300,000 federal civil servants were enrolled in the IPPIS within two months through the BVN as against the over 200,000 covered by the scheme in five years since it was initiated.
“Those we are investigating are such that, it’s either that the BVN is linked to multiple payments or the name of the BVN account is not consistent with the name on our own pay roll, and other inconsistencies. So, we believe that, if we are able to get everybody onto the BVN platform, we would be able to save a considerable amount of personnel cost.
Not only would we remove those people from our payroll but we would also be going after the banks concerned to recover our money.”
In her response to the alleged abuse of the service wide vote, the Finance Minister explained that certain measures were now being put in place to strengthen control on the use of the service wide vote by MDAs.
“Service wide vote is a contingency and every good budget should have contingency because there will always be unforeseen events that you need to be able to accommodate, and equally there are service wide initiatives and costs which cannot readily be ascribed to a single ministry. What we are now doing is pushing agencies back, that they cannot use the service wide vote but to go and find something else to use or go and find it within your budget.
As the budgeting process improves overtime, the service wide vote should actually reduce because we should be able to apportion many of these costs to the specific ministries.”
Chairman of the Senate committee on Finance, Senator John Enoh, who applauded the Finance Minister for her recent initiatives, called for greater collaboration with the budget and planning office.