Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele, yesterday, shocked the Senate when he said that he was not aware of a 1% remittance charge placed on every transfer into the Treasury Single Account (TSA) by REMITA. He claimed he became aware of it when the Senate raised the alarm few weeks ago.
Emefiele, who made the confession before the Senate Joint Committee on Finance, Banking and Insurance and Public Accounts, investigating the alleged N25billion commission taken by REMITA from revenue collection it made into the account, however said the charge claimed by REMITA and others was just about N8billion (and not the N25billion alleged) out of the N800billion remitted into the TSA account.
He said: “The truth was that I did not know that there was 1% charge on that account until the Senate and the House raised it.
It was immediately after that, I swung into action that the money must be reversed. This is the truth; I need to own up to what happened.”
Emefiele revealed that as at December 8, 2015, a total of N2.08trillion had been remitted into the TSA account by all the MDAs, saying, “no abuse or mismanagement of the scheme.”
But the Managing Director of Systemspecs, which owns the REMITA e-collection platform, John Obaro, submitted to the committee with relevant documents, agreement between the firm, the CBN and the office of the Accountant General of the Federation (OAGF), for the e-collection exercise and 1% charges.
According to him,“SystemSpecs has a valid contract with CBN for the provision of the Payment Gateway that supports payment and collections of government revenue.
The fees were discussed by all stakeholders, set by CBN and OAGF, communicated to all by the CBN and included in our contract. We did not charge above the agreed rates.”
Obaro said the 1% charge was not for REMITA alone but shared along with CBN itself and other Deposit Money Banks on the ratio of 50% for REMITA, 40% for other Deposit Money Banks and the remaining 10% for CBN.
He gave graphic details of how his firm ran into troubled waters with the CBN over the charges, lamented that the latest development portrays them as being used and dumped by the Federal Government on the laudable exercise.
“On September 14, 2015, the OAGF had expressed concern at a project review meeting about the fees considering the enlarged scope of the project. SystemSpecs was not averse to price renegotiation. We wrote to the CBN that we are open to renegotiation and that an all stakeholders meeting be convened.
Three weeks later on October 7, we wrote again that an all stakeholders meeting should be convened to review processing fees.
Two weeks later, on October 27, we were instructed by the CBN to refund all fees that have accrued to us in accordance with the contract.
We strategically chose to comply within 24 hours of receipt of their letter as we did not want to allow the issue of fees in the heat of the moment to becloud the work we have done in the delivery of TSA for Nigeria.