System Specs, the company that owns Remita, the e-payment and e-collection software used by the federal government to implement payments into the Treasury Single Account (TSA), has written a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari on the controversy surrounding the 1% processing fee charged on inflow into the TSA.
In the letter, the company dismissed allegations of wrongdoing, explaining that it was contracted by the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan in 2011 when Sanusi Lamido Sanusi was still the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The company further dismissed allegations made against it by Senator Dino Melaye (Kogi West) that the firm was making about N25bn daily as commission, saying it made about N3b from the 1% processing fee as its share since the implementation of the project.
System Specs said it actually shared the processing fee with banks affected by the implementation of the TSA and the CBN in ratios of .5 %, .4% and .1% respectively.
The CBN under current Governor Godwin Emefiele in August directed the company to refund monies deducted as professing fees when it discovered that over N8 billion was collected.
But in a to the President Buhari dated November 6, 2015 and signed by the Managing Director of System Specs, Mr. John Obaro, noted that they understand that the President must have heard series of reports around the 1% processing fees chargeable on e-Collections of Government receipts. The company then provided some background on these issues. The letter reads in part: “System Specs was engaged to provide the Payment Gateway for TSA in 2011. While the payment leg of TSA commenced in January 2012, the collection component did not start as scheduled due to the resistance from a number of quarters and the absence of the political will to push this through.
“In 2013, CBN and OAGF setup a multi-stakeholder implementation committee and organised a joint seminar with key stakeholders, including banks, to agree formalities for commencement of e-collection.
“The Banks proposed a fee of 5% to compensate for the fact that they would no longer keep float.
“The implementation committee, however, recommended 2.5% after negotiation with the banks.
“The then AGF later approved 1% as processing fee, which was in turn communicated to all the stakeholders through CBN in December 2013. Subsequently, we executed a contract with CBN and other stakeholders involved on the provision of services to support TSA.
“Based on the increased scope of the TSA project, following your directive in August 2015 for all MDAs to join the scheme, we had highlighted the need for a stakeholder meeting to discuss the TSA e-collection fees. This was communicated to both CBN and OAGF.
“Instead of an invitation for a stakeholders meeting as requested, we received a directive from the CBN Governor to refund all TSA e-collection fees earned to date and to suspend all charges on the platform.
“System Specs has since complied fully with this directive and refunded all monies earned to date to CBN. This we did in good faith and without prejudice to avoid distractions that could becloud the bigger potential of the TSA project for our country.
“While we await clarification from OAGF/CBN on the way forward, we have since suspended all TSA e-collection fees on the platform. This means that none of the TSA collection parties/channels are earning any fees for providing services to Government.
“This position is however not sustainable as the collection partner banks are threatening to suspend FGN TSA collections. This would clearly be playing into the hands of those who do not wish this initiative to succeed.
“We understand the strategic importance of the TSA project to this administration and the country at large. We have demonstrated good faith and continued commitment to the project in the last four years to deliver on our mandate.
“We will continue to do all within our power to bring the project to full term.
“Your Excellency, we would appreciate your kind and urgent intervention to ensure a speedy resolution of this matter before the banks stop collections.”