- Loses N70bn to failed banks – Accountant-general
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Budget and National Planning, Mr Aliboh Lawrence, has indicated that the Federal Government is expecting over $80 billion as direct private investment in infrastructure, between 2014 and 2018.
Aliboh Lawrence indicated this on Thursday in Abuja at the Public-Private Dialogue on Infrastructure Financing in Nigeria, organised by the ministry in collaboration with the Nigeria Infrastructure Public Private Partnership Summit Group (NIPPPSG).
Lawrence, represented by Mr Nurudeen Lawal, Director, Infrastructure, said the National Integrated Infrastructure Master Plan (NIIMP), envisaged an increase in participation of the private sector.
“Government is also expected to leverage on up to 25 billion dollars through infrastructure Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) during the same period.
“Achieving these investment targets will require properly designed and well managed private sector engagement.’’
The Chairman, NIPPPSG, Mr Abubakar Mahmoud, said the group recognised the need to engage the private sector in infrastructure delivery in Nigeria.
Mahmoud, who was represented by Mr Bello Abdullahi, said the dialogue was organised to identify efficient ways for the public and private sectors to work together to deliver infrastructure to Nigerians.
It would also identify and address the political, legal and institutional barriers to creating bankable infrastructure projects and channel private sector finance and expertise towards successful development.
He added that other things the dialogue would do was the delivery of PPP projects in transparent and accountable manners.
Mr Chidi Izuwah, Acting Chairman, Infrastructure Concession and Regulatory Commission (ICRC) said Nigeria’s power generation target should be 180,000 megawatts to really meet the electricity needs of the population.
Izuwah, who was one of the panelists at the dialogue, said energy should be generated based on the population, adding that the recommendation for power generation was one megawatt to 1000 people.
“If we are about 180 million in Nigeria, then power generation should be 180,000 megawatts.’’
He said the biggest challenge Nigeria faced with infrastructure was commitment from both the public and private sectors.
He said for Nigeria to have infrastructure development, its reforms and legislation must be geared towards it, adding that it could also look at what other countries have and copy it.
Izuwah said for projects to be bankable, the government would have to de-risk them so that private investors could come in to own them.
“Do we have a stable regulatory environment; do we have exchange rate stability and a stable economy?’’ he asked.
He said infrastructure was very critical to the economy and that all sectors of the economy must play active roles to move the nation forward.
He, however, assured that the ICRC would do all that was legal to ensure that Nigerians got the infrastructure it needed.
The Managing Director, The Infrastructure Bank (TIB), Mr Adekunle Oyinloye, said bankability of PPP projects depended also on policies available on the projects.
He said many policies and agencies of government that handled PPP projects were not coordinated, thereby giving room for investors to back out at the slightest frustration.
He said the policies and agencies should be streamlined to give the nation a focus on what was being done per time and how investors could go about their investments.
Other participants at the dialogue said investors were concerned about political climate and messages, adding that the political class should be mindful of what they said as their sentiments could push investors away.
They also said political will was very essential to ensure that projects were implemented in an orderly and timely fashion.
They also said the nation must understand that there was an infrastructure crisis already, suggesting that it must act with urgency because inability to act would result in an infrastructure problem for the coming generations.
The dialogue would be followed up with concrete consultative and joint planning measures to create sector road-maps to get public and private actors to commit human.
Others are financial resources to enable implementation and successful delivery of infrastructure projects.
In the meantime, the Accountant-General of the Federation, Alhaji Ahmed Idris, on Thursday said over N70bn of funds belonging to the Federal Government had been lost to failed banks in the country.
He said this in a presentation on the ‘Challenges of the implementation of the Treasury Single Account in the Nigerian public service’ during a forum organised by the Bureau of Public Service Reforms.
Idris, who did not disclose the identity of the failed banks, said the TSA had been used by the government to unify all its accounts by ensuring that all monies belonging to the Federal Government were kept with the Central Bank of Nigeria.
He explained that the initiative, which commenced fully in September 2015, had been complied with by over 900 agencies of government, with over 17,000 bank accounts closed, while huge sums of money had been moved from the banks to the CBN.
Idris, who was represented at the event by Deputy Director/Coordinator, TSA/e-Collection Funds Department, Accountant-General of the Federation’s Office, Mr. Sylva Okolieaboh, said the TSA policy had been able to assist the government to address a lot of impediments affecting the efficiency of public finance.
He stated, “The cardinal objective of the TSA is to facilitate the implementation of the Federal Government cash management policy.
“The TSA is intended to address multiple bank accounts of over 17,000, countless dormant accounts with huge balances, inability to determine consolidated cash position of government, borrowing and incurring charges when there are idle balances in Ministries, Departments and Agencies’ account, and delayed remittance of revenue and collections. Over N70bn of Federal Government funds was lost to failed banks.”
The AGF told participants at the event that the government was currently enjoying a lot of benefits from the implementation of the TSA policy.
For instance, he stated that through the policy, the government had been able to block leakages and abuse, which had characterised the public sector before its commencement in September 2015.
Apart from blocking leakages, Idris said the TSA initiative had assisted the government to overcome the burden of indiscriminate borrowings by the MDAs thus saving the government a lot of bank charges associated with the borrowings.
In addition, he said through the policy, the government had eliminated various financial charges which hitherto stood at N11bn.
According to him, despite the successes so far recorded, there are still some institutional and operational challenges that are affecting the scheme.
He gave some of them as capacity deficit, lack of clarity on stakeholders’ roles, conflicting directives and signals, resistance based on limited understanding of the TSA, and non-enrolment of key arms of government.
Others are lump sum transfer of the MDAs’ balances by Deposit Money Banks, difficulty in accessing bank statements and associated reconciliation issues, and multiplicity of sub-accounts.
The Acting Director-General, BPSR, Mr. Dasuki Arabi, said the agency considered the TSA as an important policy that would assist to improve transparency and accountability in government expenditure.
“One of the key concerns of the government has been how to tackle the menace of corruption and reduce it to the barest minimum. The BPSR considers the TSA policy to be an extremely important policy initiative in improving transparency and accountability in government expenditure,” he added.
Additional report from Punch