By Emma Ujah, Abuja Bureau Chief
As President Muhammadu Buhari settles down to work, the Presidency has called for the Bank Account Balances of all federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs.
The directive to all Chief Executive Officers and Accounting Officers of MDAs was contained in a circular Ref No: TRY A4 & B4/2015 /OAGF/CAD/026/V .1/254 and dated 1 June, 2015.
It was issued by former Accountant-General of the Federation, Mr. Jonah Otunla, before he retired from service, last week.
The circular was titled “Urgent Request for Account Balances of Ministries, Departments, and Agencies, in the Central Bank and Deposit Banks, as at May 29, 2015”.
According to the circular, all accounts of each MDA, including accounts held in foreign banks must be included. Accounts of the nation’s Diplomatic Missions were also affected.
It contained a subtle warning that there would be consequences for any officer who failed to disclose any account or distort information on any account such as doctoring it as it would be considered illegal by the presidency.
It said in part, “To enable the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation (OAGF) properly brief the new Administration, you are hereby requested to submit urgently, the list and balances of ALL accounts maintained and operated by your Ministry, Department or Agency (MDA) in CBN and DMBs as at 29th May, 2015 .
Such accounts should include Offshore, Investment and Deposit Accounts.”
The MDAs were directed to provide the information in both hard and soft copies.
According to the directive, the information to be provided included: the Account Name, Account Number, Balance as at May 29, 2015, Account Status ( Active or Dormant) and remarks which should include signatories to the each account.
The move considered strategic to harnessing all available cash in an economy faced with dwindling revenue, especially from its primary source, oil, was one of the earliest steps of the new administration towards blocking all avenues of leakage.
Sources said that the submission of all bank accounts of MDAs would be the first step into President Buhari administrations audit of the federal governments financial management, especially by the last administration which had been accused of some huge payments to contractors and consultants in its last months.
It was also learnt that the Buhari administration would put in place stiff financial regulations which would make it difficult for MDAs, especially, extra-ministerial departments and agencies that collect funds from the public in their service delivery to spend such money at will.
The current regulation, allows government organizations which are not categorized as “Revenue Agencies” to spend what they earn and return the balance to the treasury at the end of each fiscal year.
However, Finance Ministry sources said that only few agencies adhere to that regulation, as most of them try to exhaust their funds at the end of the year or return what they like to the treasury, as “unspent fund”, while keeping the balance in their accounts.