By Musa Sunusi Ahmad
The Nasarawa State Commissioner for Finance, Budget and Planning, Haruna Adamu Ogbole, has said that the adoption of Treasury Single Account (TSA) has not only block leakages and streamline financial flow in the state, it has repositioned and improved the revenue capacity of the state through the automation and centralization of financial system. In this interview with our correspondent, Solomon Attah he further spoke on the impact of COVID-19 on the state’s Economy, IGR among other sundry issues. Except.
In the past one year, how were you able to reposition revenue generation capacity in Nasarawa State?
The revenue generation capacity of Nasarawa State has not only been repositioned, it has also improved over the past one year. This we are able to achieve through the automation and centralization of our financial system. It is not gain saying that the Treasury Single Account (TSA) is one commendable policy of this government which has appealed the expectations of the good citizens of Nasarawa State. In the nutshell, the automation and Centralizing system which culminated into the TSA has rarely repositioned the revenue capacity of Nasarawa State generally.
Going forward, what other areas are you looking for to harness the IGR of the state?
Harnessing the IGR of the state is one project that we will continue to improve upon. This to us, it is a working progress, and this we intend to achieve through the utilization of our asset that had been laying untapped. Example of such assets are the Fertilizer Blending Company, the Karu International Market and the Nasarawa State tourism, which both have already been out to use. We are trying to strengthened the property that are in the state. We are also harnessing our tax collection with the local government.
What are the financial challenges that bedeviled the state in the last one year, and how were you able to handle it?
When you talk about financial challenges, you know they are limitless, the present global crisis of COVID-19, which resulted in the economic downturn, with the resultant effect in dividing FAAC Allocations from the federation account, and also the Internally generated revenue, IGR, resulting from low economic activities in the state.
It is obvious that COVID-19 pandemic has crippled the economy of both the country and globally. Will you say the state has the capacity to stand the crisis when the pandemic is over?
As you rightly said, is a global crisis and globally the economic is also suffering, which Nasarawa State is not an exception bit the state has avenues to contain the pandemic. just as I mentioned earlier, we set a parameters to cushion those effect economically. The state is already working on budget revision, revising our budget base on priorities and the prioritiea are those ones that we need them immediately, so because of that, we cut our capital and recurrent budget based on the assumptions I have mentioned earlier. We are also looking at the cost of governance, which we have already cut it by 60% in the state and because of the dwindling IGR, we are also looking at an avenue, where we will also tap into agriculture. So, once the pandemic is over, agriculture will cushion the effect of COVID-19.
Is the Treasury Single Account (TSA) adopted by the state government yielding the desires result?
Definitely, that has yielded a very positive result. Let me briefly explain what TSA is. Is a unified banking arrangement that allows for centralised management of all cash resources. It can be a single bank account or a set of linked bank accounts provided there is a control and oversight. Centralised makes ease of consolidation of all cash balances and therefore earns TSA it’s place as a powerful cash management tool. Therefore this has been able to block a lot of leakages and effectively streamline the financial flow of the state, because it gives the government first hand idea o the financial position of the state at any material time.
How are you able to streamline financial flow in the state?
We are able to streamline the financial flow of the state as mentioned above.
Can the state be able to implement the minimum wage and pay all the demands of the organized labour union in the state?
As you know, it is a public domain that a committee has been set up by His Excellency, Engr. Abdullahi Sule, the Executive Governor of Nasarawa State to negotiate the possibility or otherwise of implementing the National Minimum wage and other demands of Labour in the state.
With what is coming to the state monthly, did you see the government of Governor Sule embarking on capital projects?
Yes!, As you know, the state annual budget, that is the appropriation bill is a combination of the capital and recurrent expenditure. And this, government has since been carrying out some very important capital project, which I will like to mention but a few. Like the Banquet Hall, the continuation of yet another important project, like the Lafia Cargo Airport at Kwandere and also many primary and secondary school projects built all over the three Senatorial district of the state. We, also presently flag off keffi modern market and Karu and Lafia Bus terminus, which is capital intensive project in the state. Therefore, with proper cash management strategy of this present administration, we can be able to finish those projects in one distance time.
As custodian of the state financial resources, can you tell us how much is being generated internally on a monthly basis?
Before now, on monthly basis, it was around six to seven hundred million, but because of the rebust activities of this present administration of Engr. Abdullahi Sule, the state was able to generate, because, the Governor have a target, a target that should be the third generated revenue of this federation and the third economic o this nation.
We are able to generate, if not for this COVID-19, we are almost meeting our target of three billion naira (N3 billion). But of recent, because of this COVID-19, the target was just about one billion naira that has generated to the state, and if not because of the COVID-19, the target again would have been met earnestly by robust activities of board of internal revenue vis avis ministry of finance.
Against the backdrop of the dwindling financial status, and the various development issues begging for attention, what areas have you earmarked specifically to improve the revenue of the state?
As we all know, revenue generation is a economic activities. We have the formal and informal sectors of revenue generation in the state. The informal sectors are these small scale industries, and through those viable small scale industries, we cannot generate revenue from it, that is apart from FAAC allocations to the state. Just as I mentioned earlier, the Agricultural sector are very viable for generating revenue to the state. SMEs are small scale businesses that the state Government is trying to find them, after which, then there will going to be a lot of economic activities, and these in turns will generate revenue to the state largely.
The mantra of Governor Sule’s administration is ‘exceeding all expectations, and as a member of his cabinet, what is your candid accessement of his performance so far towards meeting the expectations of the people?
I want to sincerely thank you for this important question. When the governor came on board, he mentioned clearly that he is not going to abandone any project embarked upon by his predecessors’. That he is going to complete all the projects left halfway by his predecessor. There are a lot of projects that are ongoing and they are in a verge of completion. If you look at, even the airport, if you look at the banquet hall in government, it was commissioned during the celebration of one year in office, which has been abandone for a very long time. Therefore, he has largely hold on to what he said earlier said, that he is not going to abandone any ongoing project, and that he is doing.