The Chairman of the House of Representatives Ad Hoc Committee on Treasury Single Account (TSA), Abubakar Danburam-Nuhu has pointed to the implementation of a robust legal framework backing the policy as key to its survival.
The President Muhammadu Buhari led administration issued a directive to all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to close their accounts with Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) and transfer their balances to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in October 2015, giving birth to what some economists have suggested is the boldest policy yet at economic reform under the administration.
But according to Danburam-Nuhu, there are a number of critical problems facing TSA that can easily be resolved by the implementation of a comprehensive legislative framework that clearly spells out key elements of the policy and how it should work.
He pointed to such issues as lack of ownership of the policy by relevant government agencies, deliberate exclusion of some strategic agencies from the policy and government’s none payment of banks and other institutions providing services that make TSA work, as fallouts of lack of a legal framework.
“An implementation office or a coordination office headed by a director must be put in place where anyone with questions relating to TSA can be directed. As at today, if you have issues with TSA, there is no one you can call,” Danburam-Nuhu said.
On the issue of exemptions, he said selective implementation has the capacity to derail the policy totally. No agency of government should be given the option of operating a parallel system, he suggested. And on the issue of none payment for services, he said there is no way such a practice is sustainable.
Specifically, on the issue of legislation, Danburam-Nuhu said that: “there has to be legislation, if there is no legislation, then there is no guarantee of the continuity of the policy. So, any politician can just wake up tomorrow and just cancel the policy because it does not favour him. Then we will start struggling from ground zero afresh.”
The recommendation to fully operationalise the TSA system, a public accounting system that enables government to manage its finances using a unified account domiciled in the central bank, has been prescribed as capable of improving government cash management processes and budgetary management. And the government has said that it has significantly curbed corruption within government.
The consolidation of more than 20,000 government-owned bank accounts previously spread across commercial banks in the country has saved the country an average of N4.7 billion monthly in banking charges according to sources within the government. But the absence of a clear legislation backing the policy has been seen as a treat to the policy outliving the Buhari led administration since core components of the policy were implemented under his leadership.
A law backing the establishment of TSA and enshrining its working in the DNA of government finance and Nigeria’s economic life is key to sustainability and the national assembly should work to see that the process of putting such a law in place is kick-started as soon as possible, Danburam-Nuhu recommended.