- Kogi Overhauls Revenue System, to Begin TSA
With recommendations for adoption of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) and the establishment of a legally sound and operationally efficient post-autonomy process for the Board of Internal Revenue (BIR), Kogi State is set to rejig its revenue system.
The move, which is part of efforts to fight corruption and wastes in public finance management, has already received commendations from the state government as the Adhoc Committee on Fiscal Responsibility submitted its report.
In recent times, the need to engage professional accountants and financial experts in charting a sustainable path in states’ revenue drive, management and plugging of loopholes against corruption has been canvassed at various levels.
A nine-member committee, led by a professor of Public Sector Accounting at Kogi State University, Steven Ocheni, while delivering the report to the state governor, said the members had painstakingly sourced and collated vital information, which led to the various recommendations in the report.
Other members of the Committee are Asiwaju Idris Ashiru, Commissioner for Finance and Economic Development; Oloruntoba Kehinde, Commissioner for Budget and Planning; Momoh Jibrin , State Accountant-General; and Okala Yakubu, State Auditor-General.
The committee still included Alhaji Ahmed Ododo, Auditor-General for Local Government; Alhaji Bako Mohammed, Ag. Permanent Secretary (Administration), Secretary to the State Government’s Office; Mallam Sairu Mohammed, Ag. Permanent Secretary (Establishment), Office of the Head of Service; and Alhaji Yakubu Oseni, Chairman, Kogi State Board of Internal Revenue.
Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, while receiving the report, said it was meant to reposition the state’s fiscal policies, enthrone transparency and fight corruption, as the terms of reference include the establishment of a legally sound and operationally efficient TSA; efficient Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS); and autonomous revenue board.
He assured that the sound operational guidelines for prudent management of the state’s revenue and financial discipline with a view to total elimination of wastages, drastic reduction in outgoings and rapid increase in revenue generation during this administration and beyond would be implemented.
Already, the committee has recommended for adoption the approach and methodology of Lagos State Pension Commission.To arrive at this, Ocheni said that the committee constituted three sub-committees, which had interactions with the representatives of Kogi State Pension office, representatives of Pension Commission and Pension Fund Administrators.
Again, it engaged the Organised Labour Union and other stakeholders in a Town-Hall meeting to interact on the implementation of the scheme.“We recommend Kogi State Pensions Commission for both the state and Local government pensioners, adopting the administrative set up of the Lagos State Pension Commission (LASPEC) for convenience and cost effectiveness,” he said.
He however, said the success of the scheme requires a huge investment in ICT to enable state and Local government pensioners’ records to be fully automated and a database maintained for constant update.
Corroborating the need for investment in technology to achieve success in the new drive, the Secretary to the Kogi State Government, Mrs. Ayoade Arike, noted that the implementation of TSA would be be a major issue as it is about online communication.
“I noticed that the internet level in Kogi State is not superb. We need a strong internet facility to aid the TSA,’’ she said.The committee suggested an execution of an Irrevocable Standing Payment Order (ISPO) from the state to the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation for deduction of pension contributions at source.
“Technocrats experienced in pension and financial matters be appointed to man the State Pension Commission. The state government should establish a Pension Transition Agency to service the Old Pension Liabilities with a reasonable monthly allocation to be determined by the Actuary, sufficient enough to defray the outstanding pension liabilities in five years,’’ he said.
As part of the repositioning, there is need for a new bill for a legal backing for the autonomy of the Board of Internal Revenue Service to be passed by Kogi State House of Assembly.
For effective performance, the state Internal Revenue Service is to have five Directorates, each headed by an Executive Director, who is a professional tax practitioner and member of the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria (CITN) experienced in taxation and management.
The Directorates are: Tax Operations; Compliance; Enforcement; Corporate Services; and Secretary to the Internal Revenue Service.While it also recommended the immediate adoption and implementation of the TSA and the contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) for Kogi State Public Service, there was a pre-qualification of banks, with eight eligible to be used for the policy.
The banks are Access Bank Plc, Zenith Bank Plc, Ecobank Plc, First Bank of Nigeria Plc, Fidelity Bank Plc, Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, Skye Plc, and United Bank for Africa. By the report, the would now establish a Project Team/Secretariat to be headed by the State Accountant-General, made up of Director Treasury, Director Budget, Staff from Main Accounts in the State Auditor-General’s Office, Inspectorate Unit, Board of Internal Revenue, Director, State Auditor-General’s Office, and the Bursar, Kogi State University representing tertiary institutions.
“The team has a primary responsibility for the coordination of all pre-implementation, implementation and post-implementation programmes required for the successful take-off of the State Government’s Treasury Single Account (TSA) scheme.
“The committee recommends that after the first three months of operations, a policy of No-Pin, No-Pay should be applied to ensure all and sundry comply for the success of the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS),’’ he said.
Upon implementation of the report, the retirement benefits of certain category of public office holders may be treated in line with the statutory requirements of such benefit schemes, like the Governors and other State Political Office Holders.
Addressing the governor, the Don said the state’s “New Direction Agenda,” which emphasises public accountability, transparency and financial discipline in treasury management, is an affirmation of the administration’s determination to reposition the State Civil Service.
“It is therefore, our belief, that these recommendations, if implemented by your administration, will launch the state on the path aimed at bringing to the door steps the long expected dividends of democratic governance,’’ he said.
Responding, the state Governor, said he was proud of the performance of committee, as well as the work done by the members.“We set up the Adhoc Committee on Fiscal Responsibility to advise us on ways to manage our scarce resources- prioritise and put to use judiciously,” he said.
He pointed out that his administration is much in a hurry to get the committees working because time was against the government, assuring that he was not just setting up the committees, but has the political will to implement to the letter the recommendation of those committees.
“We set up a committee to look into the state’s bloated workforce and uncovered that over N1.3 billion was being paid monthly to ghost workers. We are already implementing certain recommendations that were adhoc in nature.
“We want to stop the menace of armed robbery and kidnapping in the state. We reduced the level of insecurity in the state from what we met it to half. Before this committee comes up with its report, we had implemented 50 per cent of the report,’’ the governor said.
Assuring that the recommendations of a sound committee like this would not be swept under the carpet, he warned that no corrupt official would be harboured and those who want to manipulate the system of TSA and test our might, will face law.