Financial experts from the Chartered Institute of Treasury Management (CITM) on Wednesday ordered the federal government to implement financial reforms ahead of the presentation of the 2023 budget proposal to the National Assembly.
The CITM Registrar/Chief Executive, Mr. Olumide Adedoyin, said on Wednesday that there were no proper safeguards to ensure the effective implementation of the Treasury Single Account (TSA).
Addressing reporters in Abuja, Adedoyin also called for ongoing training and retraining of personnel dealing with critical sectors of the country’s economy, with a view to eliminating the waste of scarce resources.
To that end, he instructed the policymakers and the National Assembly to enact laws that regulate procurement and domesticate it accordingly.
He said: “Like any government policy, the TSA is a function of just one account. It’s not an app, it’s not a policy, it’s just an account. What the TSA is trying to do is make sure that the government has its resources and can know what they have at any time.
“The first step the government had to take was to do what we call cash pulling. Withdraw your funds from any bank in one account. Once you’ve done that, those bank accounts you have should not be closed, but try to moderate them to receive banks.
“They receive on your behalf, but you can’t cash out from those banks, while at the end of the day you just have an online real-time balance to make sure what comes in is accounted for.
“That had to be the function. But what we found at the end of the day was that there are some minor processes and challenges within that platform because the backend for the audit was not sufficiently secured. So if you haven’t secured the back, despite the fact that you can create wells and bring those wells, then there is a small gap in the back that can lead to wells bleed and so on.
“I think as it is, we’ve approached the government on various forums, trying to get them to understand the importance of getting these backends under control. Secondly, we also want to believe that there must be an orientation towards the permanent education and retraining of individuals. You’d be surprised to learn that some who are saddled with these responsibilities don’t really understand the process.
“The problem is that there are no guarantees. We talked about preventive mechanisms. That as it is missing. We talked about how treasury management can impact your cash management processes. That too is missing. So these are the fundamental areas that we are concerned about. So that once you are sure that, for example, X amount has been budgeted for a project, how do you approach that project? For example you want to build roads, bridges, culverts, now you can’t release the money for the completion of that road at once because it has a design process, a process of building the culverts, bridges, your overlays and every other thing .
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“What you need to do first and foremost is to be able to design those projects with timelines. Once you design with timelines, you release the responsible funds. Once those funds are released, make sure they are tied to individual aspects of those contracts.
“While we’re doing that, whatever you have left, invest that money in very short-term investment processes that would support the process, even if it’s only on commercial papers or government bonds for that period, so that invariably the value of the money wouldn’t be lost.” to go.
“Once you do this effectively, it’s hard for anyone to come back and look for variety in those jobs. you can put these things together as a whole. Second, if you want to make things work, you have to be radical. radical in the sense that the laws governing procurement and other matters must be further domesticated. What do I mean? You ensure that equipment and items that are purchased and wanted on an annual basis have a much longer lifespan.
“In the office, for example, you continue to buy copiers on an annual basis. Of course you will discover that with proper maintenance, the copier can even last five to ten years.
“So that money on those recurring things that can be used beyond the lifetime of those life shares can be plowed back into the system. What happened to those funds? They’re being stolen and diverted.”
Speaking about the inefficiency of the budgeting process, NITM’s technical adviser, Mr. Daniel Akeju, underlined the importance of the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Policy Document (FPP) in achieving effective implementation of the country’s budget.
“You mention the issue of the budget. When the country introduced the medium-term sector strategy (MTSS) into the budgeting system, we were happy because we believe that if it is followed as it should, we would not miss or waste resources. I was part of the team that developed the three-year MTSS budget for the state of Bauchi several years ago.
“The principle followed helps the state to eliminate waste. What have we done? we looked at what they needed per department, per ministry. it is not based on what was done last year, nor on what was done two years ago.
“But what is really needed. you need to assess and grade these needs. you have to give which is most important, which we need now, which we can leave until the new future. you rate them and assign them to three or four years.
“You treat them in order of importance. Those who cannot make it the first year can now be moved to the first batch of next year. It’s not the idea of a CEO going with his car. This also has to do with the so-called per zero-based budget.
“When we talk about the international public accounting standard, IPAS, we are talking about capitalizing our assets. They say we are applying for IPAS at the moment, but I don’t see it that way, because we budget for the same thing every year. why should we throw away the chair the director used and buy another chair and buy another one for the next director. why would the director leave with the vehicle bought only two years ago and have another director buy a new vehicle.
“No, these all have to be capitalized and amortized as is done in the private sector. If we do this, we can eliminate waste.”
While providing an update on the Institute’s activities, the CITM Registrar/CEO noted that the organization is trying to create a way to promote the research, the practice of properly managing the Treasury as a safeguard against fraud, misapplication/misappropriation of funds held in custody by fund managers in both the private and public sectors.
“The Institute seeks to institutionalize the preventive mechanism by diligently encouraging the study and practice of the profession as acquired in larger economies of the world, applying best practices through research and cross-fertilization of ideas from like-minded institutions and research agencies currently available in approximately 54 countries of the world.
“This, in turn, would lead to building world-class individuals and well-grounded professionals in treasury management.”
He claimed that if the operation of treasury management is allowed to affect an entity’s economy, the following would have beneficial effects: companies will operate with a smaller amount of cash, monitor and manage cash flows, and balances will be better managed. and influenced; there would be better service from banks, proper allocation of funds will be achieved; fraud and embezzlement would be minimized; the risk of loss in managing investments in liquid assets is eliminated; companies would operate at the lowest possible cost of funds within the economy of their domiciled authorities and institutions in Nigeria.
He added that the promotion, study and practice of proper management of the treasury as protection against fraud, outright embezzlement, eviction, misappropriation/misuse of scarce resources placed in the care/custody of fund managers.