The Federal Government on Monday said it had recovered N34bn out of the N58bn of its revenue trapped in Deposit Money Banks.
The recovery came about a month after the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, accused Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government of colluding with banks to withhold revenues belonging to the government.
The minister had said in a statement on June 13 that the refusal of the MDAs to remit the said amount into the Consolidated Revenue Fund was a serious breach of financial regulations, adding that all those that had violated the law would have their accounts closed by the Accountant-General of the Federation.
However, speaking on Monday shortly after she inaugurated new committees on the implementation of the Integrated Payroll and Personal Information System and the Government Integrated Financial Management Information System, Okonjo-Iweala said the non-remittance of government revenue by banks would no longer be tolerated.
She said, “We had to act because a policy where agencies that are revenue-generating are supposed to remit 25 per cent of gross revenue to the treasury and have not done that is not acceptable.
“And so, we did meet with them, pleaded with them and talked with banks, and when we saw that this was not happening, we decided to move in quickly; and if you can’t get something to work through discussion and dialogues, then you have to take action, and we did.
“And you know we said we are looking for N58bn and as at date, we have been able to get N34bn, and that is not bad.”
The minister said the recovered N34bn had been factored into the amount cash-backed for the implementation of the budget in the second quarter.
Okonjo-Iweala said, “That has been factored directly into our cash backing for the second quarter capital.
“So N34bn out of N58bn and we are still working on this and we will be taking further measures to make sure the government gets what is due it.”
The GIFMIS and IPPIS implementation committee to be chaired by the Minister of State for Finance, Dr. Yerima Ngama, has the Accountant-General of the Federation, Mr. Jonah Otunla; Director-General, Budget Office of the Federation, Dr. Bright Okogu; and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Mr. Danladi Kifasi, among others, as members.
Okonjo-Iweala said the need to further identify and block leakages in the system informed the decision to set up the committee.
The minister said so far, the government had been able to save about N119bn with the implementation of the IPPIS in 215 MDAs, and expressed the hope that it would be able to save more when the remaining 321 MDAs were captured.
“We have been able to capture 215 MDAs and saved a total of N119bn and discovered about 46,000 ghost workers. The idea is to capture the remaining 321 MDAs,” she said.
On the GIFMIS, the minister said 58 per cent of the federal budget was currently being implemented through the platform, adding that by the end of the year, the entire budget implementation would be done through the platform to ensure accountability.
“These to us are major achievements that have assisted in curbing corruption and the introduction of fake names into the payroll and also modernise the way government handles its finances,” she added.
Okonjo-Iweala urged the committee to have an implementation plan and a timeline to ensure that MDAs were connected on the system by December.
She said, “I want you to start by looking at what has been done by identifying MDAs that are already connected with GIFMIS and IPPIS systems and looking at how the system is currently functioning, and if there are any issue that needs to be rectified before we expand it to a larger mandate.
“Also look at the effectiveness of the operation of the system in identifying weaknesses in the internal control systems and taking appropriate actions to rectify same, and build on areas of strength.”
In his remarks, Otunla said the GIFMIS platform was introduced in order to improve the acquisition, allocation and utilisation of public finance.
He said, “Before now, government would have balances idling away in bank accounts by slow-spending MDAs and government would go to borrow these same funds for fast-spending MDAs.