Thursday, December 10, 2009

FG addresses e-payment challenges in Nigeria

To handle the challenges encountered in the implementation of E-payment system in Nigeria the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) has set up sub committee with representatives of the twenty-four commercial banks and central bank.

Accountant General of the Federation, Ibrahim Dankwambo recently during a two day special legislative briefing and roundtable on the federal e-payment programme and cyber security strategy organised by the National Assembly’s Anti-Money Laundering and Cyber Coalition and Policy Analysis and Research Project in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Finance and office of the Accountant General of the Federation.

According to the AGF who was represented by a director in his office, Oludare Odubote the need for the sub-Committee arises from the several challenges facing the implementation of the programme, some of which are, late return or no response in respect of unapplied fund, use of different IT platforms by different banks causing lack of connectivity.

Others are non-Naira based transactions, legal issues as there exists no legal framework on e-payment (a bill is however before the National Assembly) the use of Microfinance and Mortgage banks by some beneficiaries poses a problem for easy transfer of funds and problems from switches in effecting transfers from one bank to the other.

To mitigate some of these problems, the AGF said that his office has written to the Central Bank to issue circular addressing sanctions on unacceptable delays in returning of unapplied funds and has also intimated the apex bank on the need to champion the completion of the National Switch which will address the problem of interconnectivity between the banks.

Meanwhile, the Office of the Accountant General has proffered such solutions as the use of common e-payment platforms by all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs,) acquisition of a common software, provision of infrastructure in the MDAs, direct communication connectivity between the CBN, the commercial Banks and the paying MDAs and quick adaptation training for relevant desk officers.

AGF said on the expected outcome from the short run solution, the MDAs would be positioned to make payments directly from infrastructure installed in their offices.
However in the long run, the Office of the Accountant General will be implementing government Integrated Financial Management System (GIFMIS) which has an e-payment module integrated for the ultimate long run solution.

According to the AGF, the e-payment is ongoing and it has been realized that any move to revert to the use of cheques and cash transactions will lead to adverse consequences which will not be in favour of the gains already made in adopting the e-payment regime.

“Government is already benefiting as there has been sharp decline in the opportunity for corrupt and illegal practices in dealing with public funds”, he said.

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