THE Treasury Single Account, TSA, introduced two years ago to great applause by financial experts, was designed to curb corruption in the Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs, despite its initial adverse impact on banks’ liquidity and job losses. Interest rates initially went up but are now moderating.
The operation of the TSA was also expected to be closely monitored through a robust internal audit process to ensure that the MDAs do not continue the corrupt practices which had characterised the management of public funds. An effective audit system operates on the basic and time-tested annual cycle at the end of every preceding year. We have had two full years of the TSA being in operation. So why has no audit been carried out?
An effective audit system is also based on the idea that prevention is better than cure. When public servants realise that their activities are being closely monitored by a competent and honest audit staff, only the most hardened offenders would risk perpetrating questionable conducts.
The lack of serious commitment to the spirit behind the TSA by the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation was recently demonstrated when the House of Representatives invited the Auditor General of the Federation, Mr. Anthony Ayine, to ascertain how much Federal revenue had passed through the system so far. Shockingly, Mr. Ayine said he did not have the exact figures. However, a House of Representatives Ad Hoc Committee headed by Abubakar Audu (APC-Kaduna) revealed that a total of N4.2 trillion had so far been remitted into the account since 2015.
Mr. Ayine was later to admit that it was an “omission” that his office had failed to carry out the audit, adding, however, that he had only recently ordered for it to be done. This attitude by the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation is a betrayal of the purpose behind the introduction of the TSA. It smacks of foot-dragging in keying into a major effort to track the flow of money into the Federal till and prevent corruption. We call on the National Assembly in exercise of its oversight powers to ensure that this audit is carried out without further delay.
The political leadership itself which adopted the TSA should ensure that the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation is alive to its responsibility with regards to the implementation of the policy. It is obvious that some may be reluctant to partner in the fight against corruption. This is simply an indication that those benefiting from a corrupt system will always want to frustrate all noble policies to achieve this purpose.