LAGOS — Indications emerged weekend, that the Single Treasury Account, TSA, may be grounded, following the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, order suspending payment of fees and charges to parties operating the system.
Vanguard learned that as a result of
CBN’s, recent directive, banks and other stakeholders operating the
system may abandon the project in protest over the suspension of their
one per cent agreed fees and charges. Stakeholders have been directed
to refund fees and charges they collected as a result of the operation
of the TSA.
The CBN had caused a letter dated October 27, 2015 to be written to
Systemspecs asking for refund of all debits/charges into MDAs account.
The letter signed by Dipo Fatokun read in part: “I have been directed
to inform you that you should refund all charges, 1% cost of collection
made into MDAs account as a result of the implementation of the TSA.
The total amount should be credited into the account – FGN Revenue
e-Collection Pool Account at the Central Bank of Nigeria Account No
“Since the cost of collection must have been shared by all the
stakeholders, you are hereby required to also provide a schedule of the
total amount collected and the portion that was shared to each of the
The schedule should be prepared on month by month basis, from the
commencement of the TSA implementation in March, 2015, to date. We will
recover the share to CBN and DMBs. Please note that you are required to
comply with the above directive, latest by Wednesday October 28, 2015”.
N836.721 billion in TSA
Documents sighted by Vanguard indicate that
a total of N836.721 billion has been the inflow into the federal
government coffer through the Single Treasury Account for which a fee of
N7.628 billion was charged by both the banks and the facilitator of the
TSA project, SystemSpecs. From documents sighted by Vanguard,
the CBN is asking the banks to refund N3.053 billion into government
treasury while the Central Bank of Nigeria is to refund the sum of N760
million. Systemspecs is also requested to refund N3.812 billion they
collected as fees and charges.
According to the official figures sighted by Vanguard,
as at September 15, 2015, N152. 225 billion stood as the cumulative
amount that was collected into the TSA account while N797. 717million
was the fees due to Systemspecs. The figures also showed that as at
October 27, the sum of N836.721 billion was the cumulative collection
into the TSA and a total fee of N3.812 billion was due to Systemspecs.
Systemspecs in reaction to the CBN letter wrote to the CBN Governor
on October 28 saying: “Let me, however, thank you sir, for your call
of Friday, October 23, 2015 in which you ordered that Systemspecs should
return all charges earned on the use of our Remita Collection platform.
This was followed by your letter of October 27 delivered today. We have
opted to obey your instructions for the following reasons: We defer to
the high office of the Governor of the Central Bank. We have invested
the last four years to prepare for the takeoff of the TSA project and
would do all within our power to bring the project to full term despite
this demoralising setback for us. We understand very well the strategic
importance of the TSA project in the life of this Administration and
would not want any avoidable distractions to becloud the bigger
potentials of this project for our country.
“Having returned the money sir, please permit me to explain why you
should return this money to us. You may want to recall Sir, that before
Remita was engaged to implement the TSA project in 2011, CBN had written
to Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, OAGF, that the
project was not feasible for at least another two years.
The initial thinking then was to use the RTGS to support TSA
transactions before it was observed that the system is not built for
retail and high volume transactions. When we signified our intention to
provide a solution for TSA, we were told that Nigeria Inter-bank
Settlement System, NIBSS, had also shown interest and the decision of
which platform to use was left to a joint evaluation committee
comprising of CBN, OAGF and external Consultants. Three times, we and
N1BSS made competitive presentations to the joint evaluation committee.
It was clear to the panel that the wholly Nigerian developed Remita
effectively addressed all the requirements expected by OAGF and its
external consultants to support TSA e-payment and e-collection of
“Upon engagement, our team worked tirelessly with CBN officials to
make the solution ready within a very strict timeline in order to meet
the planned January 2012 launch date of TSA. It may further interest
you to know sir, that in January 2012 when the foreign developed
Government Integrated Financial Management Information System, GIFMIS,
platform was not ready as scheduled, we were called upon by CBN
management to deploy Remita directly to 108 Pilot MDAs in order to
ensure commencement of TSA as planned.
“Accordingly Remita was the platform that provided end- to-end
solution between January and April 2012 when GIFMIS became ready for
roll out to take care of the accounting end. On the specific issue of
the Collection Fees of 1 % which has become a topical issue and has
assumed a life of its own please permit me to recall the context and
some background milestones.
Systemspecs in another letter to President Muhammadu Buhari on the
November 6 seeking a resolution of the matter said: “Our letter of June
26, 2015 and your kind response of August 31, 2015 on “Effective
monitoring of Government Funds – The Treasury Single Account (TSA)
Initiative” refers. We sincerely appreciate the confidence reposed in
our wholly Nigerian software innovation to provide the technology that
supports implementation of the TSA Initiative. Our e-Payment and e-Col/ection platform – REMITA, serves as the Payment Gateway for
TSA. The system connects with the GIFMIS at the Office of the
Accountant General of the Federation, Temenos T24 banking application at
Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in addition to several systems provided
by other Payment Service Providers to ensure seamless payment and
collection of Government receipts across Ministries, Departments and
“Your Excellency, please find below some of the areas we have used
technology to support the TSA scheme: We have created a platform that
empowers Government to see at a glance the cash position of all
participating MDAs on the TSA. Provision of the payment and collection
platform for 705 MDAs currently enrolled on GIFMIS.
Direct deployment of REMITA. to 754 MDAs that are either partially or
self -funded to facilitate electronic payment and collection.
*Connection to all Commercial Banks and over 400 Micro Finance Banks
in Nigeria. *Empowerment of the citizenry to pay Government from any
Commercial Bank branch, a growing number of micro Finance Banks and
Agents, use of internet banking, mobile phones, debit and credit cards.
*Direct Credit of Government accounts at CBN typically within two (2) hours.
*Collection of over about N 1 trillion on behalf of the Federal
Government between August to date, either as transfers from Banks or
direct receipts from payers.
“Your Excellency, we are aware that you must have heard series of
reports around the 1 % processing fees chargeable on e-Collections of
Government receipts. We will like to provide some background on these
SystemSpecs was engaged to provide the Payment Gateway for TSA in
2011. While the payment leg of TSA commenced in January 2012, the
collection component did not start as scheduled due to the resistance
from a number of quarters and the absence of the political will to push
“In 2013, CBN and OAGF setup a multi-stakeholder implementation
committee and organised a Joint seminar with key stakeholders including
Banks to agree on the formalities for commencement of e-Collection. The
Banks proposed a fee of 5% to compensate for the fact that they would no
longer keep float. The implementation committee however recommended
2.5% after negotiation with the Banks. The then AGF later approved 1 %
as processing fee which was in turn communicated to all the stakeholders
through CBN in December 2013. Subsequently, we executed a contract with
CBN and other stakeholders involved on the provision of services to
“Based on the increased scope of the TSA project following your
directive in August 2015 for all MDAs to join the scheme, we had
highlighted the need for a stakeholder meeting to discuss the TSA
e-Collection fees. This was communicated to both CBN and OAGF.
“Instead of an invitation for a stakeholders meeting as requested, we
received a directive from the CBN Governor to refund ALL TSA
e-Collection fees earned to date and to suspend all charges on the
platform. SystemSpecs has since complied fully with this directive and
refunded all monies earned to date to CBN. This we did in good faith and
without prejudice, to avoid distractions that could becloud the bigger
potentials of the TSA project for our country
“While we await clarification from OAGF/CBN on the way forward, we
have since suspended all TSA e-Collection fees on the platform. This
means that none of the TSA collection parties/channels are earning any
fees for providing services to Government.
“This position is however not sustainable as the collection partner
Banks are threatening to suspend FGN TSA collections. This would clearly
be playing into the hands of those who do not wish this initiative to
succeed. We understand the strategic importance of the TSA project to
this Administration and the country at large.
We have demonstrated good faith and continued commitment to the
project in the last four years to deliver on our mandate. We will
continue to do all within our power to bring the project to full term.
“Your Excellency, we would appreciate your kind and urgent
intervention to ensure a speedy resolution of this matter before the
Banks stop collections