Reps investigate payment of N15 bn to Remita by OAGF

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By Disun Amosun

House of Representatives Public Accounts Committee (PAC) currently investigating revenue leakages in government accruable funds, yesterday queried the payment of N15 billion to Remita, from the Office of the Accountant General for the Federation, (OAGF).

The Committee alleged the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Commercial Banks of complicity in the percentage sharing of the N15 billion remittances.

Rep. Bamidele Salam, Chairman, PAC, who made the allegation at the resumed investigative hearing in Abuja, linked widespread revenue leakages to shortage of funds being experienced by the government in executing the national budget.

Remita is a payment solution platform that helps government agencies, individuals and businesses make and receive payments, pay bills and manage their finances.

Salam alleged that the payment of N15 billion to Remita from the OAGF from 2016 to 2018 was questionable, adding that the OAGF paid the money without prior agreement or contract.

He described the payment as illegal, adding that “There was no budget provision, so where did they source the money from?” For instance, if someone pays N150, 000 as a remitter, you will now pay 7.5 percent Value-Added Tax (VAT) in addition to the payment.

“Ordinarily, that whole sum of VAT ought to go to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), but what they are doing in this transaction is that they will now add that VAT to the original sum paid to be remitted”, he observed.

According to the Committee Chairman, “System Spec and Remitta, both collecting revenue for the federal government, will share 50 percent, while the banks and the CBN will also have their own share.”

He said that by the time the Committee finished its reconciliation, “I am very sure that hundreds of billions of naira will be the VAT component that was not remitted to FIRS.”

According to him, each bank ought to take the money and directly remit it to FIRS.

“Now Remita is saying that each of those collecting the money will come and calculate the money that has been shared into shreds, now how do we track this kind of money”, he queried.

Director, Banking Services, CBN, Mr Ahmed Abdullahi, said it was expendable to source for an alternative way of remitting revenue; Remita and System Spec were selected because they had been rendering similar services to banks.

According to him, Remita was engaged in 2011 and operations commenced in 2012 with system module names. The CBN only finalized the transaction.

He said that the fees charged under the Treasury Single Account, TSA were in line with the structure of banking explaining that the volume of revenue collection that passed through Remita was N86 million.

Mr. Oyewole Adewale, Chief Accountant, TSA Department, representing the Accountant General for the Federation, accused the CBN of not honoring its letters to reconcile the revenue accrued to the country through TSA.

He said the OAGF had developed a system where all revenue generated by the Ministries of Departments and Agencies of Government (MDAs) could now be monitored without any interference.

Mr. Aderemi Atanda, Director, Remita Payment Services Ltd., while reading the summary of the TSA collection record, said that between 10, 20, and 50 percent were shared among CBN, commercial banks, and Remitta.

He said that collections are usually not static, adding that they vary, between 2015–2016, it was N4.2 million, and the fee paid was N8.5 billion while in 2016, N1.3 billion was paid.