To demonstrate transparency and accountability in the management of public sector finances, President Muhammadu Buhari recently directed the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation [OAGF] to publish daily treasury statements. The president directed this at the official launch of Federal Government’s Transparency Policy and Open Treasury Portal in Abuja on Monday last week, December 9.A portal was unveiled to host all federal government transactions above N5 million. The daily report is to be published on www.opentreasury.gov.ng.
Minister of State for Niger Delta Affairs Senator Omotayo Alasoadura, who represented Buhari at the event, said the Accountant General of the Federation [AGF] must publish a daily treasury report which will provide information about what comes into and what goes out of the national purse every day. The occasion coincided with the day set aside by the United Nations as International Anti-Corruption Day. He further said all public sector funds across MDAs must be spent openly and transparently.
While the AGF is required to publish daily reports of all payments made to MDAs above N10 million naira, MDAs will publish daily reports of payments they made above N5 million naira. The information to be published must include the MDA responsible, the beneficiary, the purpose and amount of each payment. Accounting officers are responsible for providing answers to any questions from the public relating to transactions completed by entities under their charge.
Buhari further directed all MDAs to publish monthly budget performance report. It will include functions and economic activities performed by all federal MDAs and which must be ready within 7 days of the end of each month. In addition, OAGF was directed to publish monthly fiscal accounts detailing fiscal performance of the federal government in terms of revenue receipts from all collecting agencies and payments out of federation accounts within 14 days after the end of the month.
AGF and all Accounting Officers of MDAs are also to publish a quarterly consolidated unaudited financial statement of the federal government within a month of the end of the quarter,in addition to an Annual General Purpose Financial Statement. The Federal Government’s audited financial statement and all public sector entities must be prepared in accordance with International Public Sector Accounting Standards and must be ready within a month after the end of the first quarter of the following year.
Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning Mrs Zainab Ahmed said the Policy and Portal’s launch are in furtherance of the fight against corruption. She said at this Administration’s inception President Buhari set out to achieve three fundamental goals including the fight against corruption. AGF Ahmed Idris then said the Treasury is well positioned to implement the newly launched Financial Transparency Policy Portal, which is in line with the administration’s commitment to promote the country’s economic well-being.
The transparency policy is commendable given its potential as a tool for monitoring and accountability. It remains to be seen if the daily and monthly targets can be implemented by the civil service we have these days. Putting up daily financial reports of all transactions that took place in MDAs requires a lot of commitment from officers. Still other questions arise on this policy. For example, the difference between this policy and TSA in terms of the transparency and accountability is not very clear. Government has not also explained the specific objective behind the open treasury portal. It is also not clear whether or not some government agencies such as NNPC, Defence Ministry and CBN will be required to publish daily financial reports of their entities. There are also doubts about what reports non-revenue generating agencies will be publishing.
Learning from the experiences of EFCC in monitoring bank transactions, the minimum amount of transactions to be reported on by MDAs on a daily basis should be raised in order to have a manageable size of information to deal with.