Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Reps query accountant-general’s office for ‘illegally’ paying N15 billion to Remita; accuse CBN of complicity

The committee accused the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and commercial banks of complicity in sharing the N150 billion remittance.

• March 28, 2024
House of Representatives,
House of Representatives, [PHOTO CREDIT: Official Twitter handle of Reps NGR]

The House of Representatives Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has queried the payment of N15 billion to Remita, a payment platform from the Office of the Accountant General for the Federation (OAGF).

The committee accused the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and commercial banks of complicity in sharing the N150 billion remittance.

Rep. Bamidele Salam, chairman of PAC, made the allegation at the resumed investigative hearing on revenue leakages in Abuja on Thursday.

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

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

He described the payment as illegal. “The money is an illegal payment; there was no budget provision, so where did they source the money from?” the chairman queried.

“The CBN also shared in the money. The money is an illegal payment; there was no budget provision, so where did they source the money from?

“For instance, if someone pays N150 as a remitter, you will now pay 7.5 per cent Value-Added Tax (VAT) in addition to it.

“Ordinarily, that whole sum of VAT ought to go to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), but in this transaction, they will now add that VAT to the N150. They will add it up, gather the money together, and take it to the CBN.

“System Spec and Remitta, both collecting revenue for the federal government, will share 50 per cent, while the banks and the CBN will also have their share,” Mr Salam stated.

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.”

The lawmaker noted that each bank should take the money and remit it to FIRS.

“Now Remita is saying that those collecting should calculate the money that has been shared into shreds. How do we track this kind of money?“ he asked.

The CBN’s banking services director, Ahmed Abdullahi, said they deemed it fit to source an alternative way of remitting revenue. He said Remita and System Spec were selected because they had been rendering similar services to banks.

He said Remita was engaged in 2011, and operations commenced in 2012 with system module names.

According to him, CBN only finalised the transaction.

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

Oyewole Adewale, the TSA department’s chief accountant, representing the federation’s accountant general, accused the CBN of not honouring its letters to reconcile the revenue accrued to the country through TSA.

He said the OAGF had developed a system that allows for the monitoring of all revenue generated by the Ministries of Departments and Agencies of Government (MDAs) without any interference.

Aderemi Atanda, the director of Remita Payment Services Ltd., read the summary of the TSA collection record and said that 10, 20, and 50 per cent were shared among CBN, commercial banks, and Remitta.

He said collections are usually not static, adding that they vary.

“From 2015 to 2016, it was N4.2 million, and the fee paid was N8.5 billion; in 2016, N1.3 billion was paid,” said Mr Atanda.

(NAN)

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