By Lancelot Obiaku
Finance is at the center of governance as it is true that in the day-to-day running of the government, finances are expended. It goes to say that oftentimes, how a government manages its finances and finance related issues, determines how successful it will become and how much of an impact it would make on the governed. Any responsible government will take issues about finance seriously, not for the personal aggrandizement of its agents, but to ensure that it meets its obligations to the led. A responsible government embraces prudence and frowns at profligacy and recklessness in the management of its finances. A government that means well for the governed also tries to increase its financial strength for better delivery of democracy dividends to the people. Suffice it to say that a government without a robust fiscal policy is bound to fail.
One of the key achievements of Gov. Emeka Ihedioha within 100 days in office as governor of Imo State is the successful implementation of the Treasury Single Account (TSA), leading to the closure of the over 250 bank accounts operated by the immediate past administration. The benefit of the TSA policy is that it will ensure probity, accountability and transparency in the finance department.
Furthermore, the state’s Board of Internal Revenue (BIR) which has been saddled with managing the TSA has since commenced the process of building a data base of all revenue sources, which before now was not in place. With this, record of all departments in the informal sector will be properly managed to bring about efficiency in revenue generation. It is expected that the ongoing reforms in the Imo BIR, coupled with the TSA policy, will double the state’s Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).
The governor also provided over 200 computers for pension verification, an exercise which when completed in few days time, the government will commence payment of over 30 months of pension arrears. Similar verification has been carried out in the civil service which unearthed high profile fraud in the civil service commission. It exposed the situation where over ten thousand persons working with private establishments were drafted to receive wages from government through the Civil Service Commission. By this, the government has blocked the loss of millions which will be reinvested in the system to enable the government make complete payment of workers’ salary as well as implement the new minimum wage.
Gov. Ihedioha has digitalized the pension scheme through the creation of a database to keep accurate and up-to-date record of pensioners to enable the state government make payments as and when due. This will block the holes from where government lost money via pension fraud.
Another masterstroke by Gov. Ihedioha is the adoption of Contributive Pension Scheme (CPS). The CPS will ensure that remittances into workers’ Retirement Savings Accounts and funding of the Retirement Benefit Bond Redemption Fund accounts, are made. On the long run, the CPS will make the gratuities of civil servants ready upon their retirements. It is also designed to keep the pension board funded for prompt pension payment. It should be noted that the legal framework for the scheme was provided by the state’s legislature which enacted the CPS law in 2009, in the administration of Dr. Ikedi Ohakim.
The deliberate steps taken so far by the Gov. Ihedioha administration in the area of finance has birthed accountability, probity and fiscal discipline. The era of stealing, siphoning and embezzlement of government money by government officials and agents, is over, even as the IGR of the state is expected to witness significant improvement.