Monday, 31 July 2017

Govt saves N4b bank charges monthly - TSA

The Treasury Single Account (TSA) policy has enabled the Federal Government to save N4billion monthly from charges that banks collected on its numerous accounts, it was learnt at the weekend.

Besides, more than N7 trillion has been remitted by banks to the government’s TSA account in compliance with the policy.

The figure,  as at March, showed that the TSA had been able to consolidate all inflows from government agencies using a single account-Consolidated Revenue Account (CRA), at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

The TSA is a bank account or a set of linked bank accounts through which the government transacts all its receipts and payments and gets a consolidated view of its cash position at any given time.
The implementation of TSA was a nightmare for government until September 2015, when SystemSpecs deployed Remita, locally developed payment software, to drive the policy execution.

Before TSA, every organisation that collects money payable to the Federal government stacked cash in Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) where they were left to yield interest over the years for faceless individuals and groups while the Federal Government was starved of funds meant for developmental projects.

The Federal High Court in Lagos two weeks ago, ordered seven commercial lenders to temporarily remit a total of $793.2 million allegedly hidden by them in contravention of the TSA policy.
Justice Chuka Obiozor ordered the banks to remit the various amounts allegedly being kept illegally in their custody to the designated Federal Government’s asset recovery dollars account domiciled with the apex bank.

The concerned banks are United Bank for Africa Plc, Diamond Bank Plc, Skye Bank Plc, First Bank Limited, Fidelity Bank Plc, Keystone Bank Limited and Sterling Bank Plc. However, the lenders have all denied keeping such funds, insisting they have remitted the cash to the regulator.

Head of Treasury at Ecobank Nigeria, Olakunle Ezun, said the TSA has remained a major challenge for most banks, especially smaller lenders.

He said the TSA has reduced banks’ balance sheet positions and income.

Ezun said: “TSA remains a minus for banks, and plus for government,” he disclosed.

He said: “A lot of banks did not honour their obligations, because of liquidity problems. But after a while, some banks met with the CBN and asked to pay gradually. The CBN later gave them forbearance, but increased liquidity in the system, I think they are now expected to remit the cash,” he said.

Ezun said TSA remains a minus for banks, and plus for government, adding that the affected lenders will have to source the dollar from the parallel market because the law does not allow them to bid at the official market for such funds.

“A lot of the affected banks will have to source for the funds at the parallel market,  if they do not have the required cash. The banks that were caught in the web were those facing foreign exchange crisis, which made it difficult for them to remit in totality to the CBN,” he said.

Defending the initiative, Executive Director, SystemSpecs, Adermi Atanda, said the TSA is just a concept, a way and means of banking.

He said: “So, TSA is just set of arrangements of knowing where your funds are, aggregating them for optimum benefits to the economy. So, that in itself, does not make it threat to banking in any way. It is just that government needs to get more efficient by leveraging on technology, and it goes beyond the banks. It touches how people are able to relate with governments, the ease of payment, delivery of service, accountability of government revenues, taxation and making funds available for national development,” he said.

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