Whereas the federal government is still basking on the euphoria of achieving the Treasury Single Account (TSA), there is a growing confusion and frustrations in accessing fund for strategic projects within Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), Business Hilights can authoritatively report.
A survey carried out in ministries by Business Hilights Economic Research team (BHERT) showed that about 80 per cent of federal agencies can hardly access funds to tackle pressing and time bound issues.
However, many of them have decided to remain silent in line with the Civil Service code of conduct, but investigations show that several jobs that need to be executed by the agencies are facing cash crunch and in some cases, contractors are finding it hard to get paid.
According to the survey, every agency of the federal government can only boost of paying salaries and few critical expenses.
Two answers were however identified for the playing scenario; One is the long process of approvals and bureaucracies involved in getting fund from TSA while the other is drop in federal government’s revenue.
An official in the Federal Ministry of Finance told our correspondent on phone on Tuesday that “If you can observe, the speed with which many federal agencies have halted their money soaking programmes is much”.
“Due to poor inflow of government revenue, sometime last year, every MDA was given a circular to shelve expenses by way of suspending certain levels of sponsorships, contracts and donations or assistances.
Continuing, the ministry official who pleaded anonymity revealed that “Unlike before, agencies headquartered here in Abuja, can just decide to go to a distant state and host one seminar or something and waste money. Today, such money to through around does not exist”.
“Even money to do critical official projects are now very hard to get because before you will complete the round of processing the release of the fund, time frame for the project is almost gone.
“As I talk to you today, there are still some agencies whose 2017 budget is still not passed while others are yet to access their allocations. You can only find out if you are very close to some senior workers in affected agencies.
Earlier this week, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), opened up, revealing that it can no longer go ahead with its 2016/2017 scholarship programme, but assured that efforts are being made to resume in the next academic year.
Also, the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), suddenly shifted emphasis from giving Nigerians their Identity Cards (hard copy) after normal registration and documentation to ordinary printout due to funding issues with contractors handling printing of chipped cards.
Otherwise, paucity of fund has compelled NIMC to emphasis the importance of Nigerians having their ordinary National Identification Number (NIN), instead of printing and giving people their card which will contain the same NIN.
Analysts say why Nigerians are finding it difficult to squeeze out time to go for NIN is that no ID card is coming with the computer printout, and besides, millions of Nigerians who had registered since 2013 are yet to get their ID cards.
The Business Hilights survey disclosed further that why agencies are finding it very difficult is because of the TSA. Before the introduction of the policy, it is always easy for agencies to get funding for all sorts of projects, but now, heads of agencies are running for their heads as they are finding it difficult to apply for fund from TSA on certain class of projects which were easily done before the policy.
The challenge of funding in agencies cut across every ministry including transportation as several maritime agencies hardly sponsor or carry out certain grades of official expenses again.
The challenge seems harder in the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, Industry and Commerce, Education, Health, and others, but Ministries like Petroleum Resources and Agriculture seemed to be finding it easier than others, according to the survey.
Many of the agencies who expressed worry on funding crisis pleaded not to be named but called for a strategic review of the processes of accessing funds for critical projects after all.