Monday 16 November 2015

Treasury Single Account Controversy: How SystemSpecs' Remita was approved for remittance of government funds

Remita, SystemSpecs
More facts have emerged on the appointment of SystemSpecs to provide the e-Payment and e-Collection solution for the remittance of government funds to the TSA.

CBN sources have disclosed that contrary to the perception created last week that the former CBN governor approved the contract, a top CBN official who worked closely with Sanusi disclosed that when the government wanted to start the TSA, an inter-departmental technical committee comprising the Ministry of Finance, the CBN and commercial banks was set up.
“It was this committee which screened and selected SystemSpecs to use its Remita software as the gateway for government revenues while the Accountant-General of the Federation approved the 1 per cent commission for SystemSpecs for their services in revenue collection. This was not approved by the CBN.
"Even though the Deputy Governor, Operations (Tunde Lemo) chaired the technical committee only the finance ministry can approve spending government money, the CBN is only a custodian.
“No part of this transaction came to Sanusi or was brought to his attention because as CBN governor he did not micromanage the central bank and these things did not need his approval or time,” he said.
It was also discovered that Lemo’s preference, as chairman of the inter-departmental committee, was to appoint NIBSS of which he was also its chairman in his capacity as the Deputy Governor, Operations in CBN. But after the committee evaluated the presentations made by SystemSpecs and NIBSS, it was determined that the former had developed the platform for the e-Collection services that were required by the federal government and CBN while NIBSS did not have the software.
“SystemSpecs was selected through a competitive process because it showed it had the platform that was needed for the services. There was nothing untoward about the selection process and the committee approved it, following which the Accountant-General negotiated the commission downwards to 1 per cent,” the source explained.

Meanwhile, In a letter to the president dated November 6 and signed by the Managing Director, SystemSpecs, the company has warned of the serious consequences of the disruption in the services provided by the firm on the TSA. In the letter, SystemSpecs, which said it sought for a meeting of all the stakeholders to iron out the grey areas on the processing fee, lamented that instead of an invitation for a stakeholders meeting as requested, the company received a directive from the CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele to refund all TSA e-collection fees earned to date and to suspend all charges on the platform.
The letter said: “SystemSpecs has since complied fully with this directive and refunded all monies earned to date to the CBN. This we did in good faith and without prejudice, to avoid distractions that could becloud the bigger potential of the TSA project for our country. 
“While we await clarification from Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation/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.”
The letter warned that this position was however not sustainable as the collection partner banks were threatening to suspend TSA collections, adding that the situation would clearly be playing into the hands of those who do not wish this initiative to succeed.

The letter disclosed that before SystemSpecs was engaged to implement the TSA project in 2011, CBN had written to OAGF that the project was not feasible for at least two years.
“The initial thinking then was to use the RIGGS to support TSA transactions before it was observed that the system was not built for retail and high volume transactions.”
In the bid to dispel speculations that the contract for the TSA might have been done from the back door, the company said in the letter that “when we signified our intention to provide a solution for TSA, we were told that the 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 CBN and external consultants.
“Three times, we and NIBSS made competitive presentations to the joint evaluation committee. It was clear that the wholly Nigerian-developed Remita effectively addressed all the requirements expected by OAGF and its external consultants to support TSA’s e-payment and e-collection of government receipts”.
The documents also showed that SystemSpecs had exchanged letters with other relevant authorities, the CBN and the OAGF long before the Senate motion last week alleging that the implementation of the TSA had fetched the service provider a whooping N25 billion.

In the letter, SystemSpecs said it emphasised the need to review the processing fees in view of the impact of the large fees collected through Remita at the early stage of the implementation of TSA, which the company said was not representative of the typical regular collection flows.

The company recalled that it had expressed its willingness to renegotiate the terms of the agreement, adding however that it was not taken seriously by the CBN.
“We had even gone the extra mile by expressing willingness to renegotiate; twice, we requested in writing that a meeting be called to agree positions. This did not happen. We do not see why we should be penalised for this,” the letter read.
The documents recalled that between May 27 and 28, 2013, CBN and OAGF jointly organised a seminar with key stakeholders on the commencement of e-collections scheduled to start January 1, 2014.

Credit: ThisDay

No comments:

Post a Comment