By Omeiza Ajayi
The federal government has announced several cost-cutting measures as a way of reducing the cost of governance and shoring up its dwindling revenue.
Among the measures is the restriction of foreign travels to two per quarter for heads of Ministries, Departments and Agencies MDAs as well as cancelling first-class air tickets for some category of officials.
Secretary to the Government of the Federation SGF, Boss Mustapha in a statement issued on his behalf by the Director, Information in the office, Willie Bassey said the decision is “in a bid to curb leakages and ensure efficiency in the management of resources of Government”
He said President Muhammadu Buhari, has approved for immediate implementation, additional cost saving measures aimed at instilling financial discipline and prudence, particularly, in the area of official travels.
The measures according to the statement are;
“Henceforth, all Ministries, Departments and Agencies MDAs are required to submit their Yearly Travel Plans for statutory meetings and engagements to the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and/or the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation for express clearance within the first quarter of the fiscal year, before implementation. They are further required to make their presentation using the existing template and also secure approvals on specific travels as contained in the plan, from the appropriate quarters.
“On the Nature and Frequency of Travels, all public-funded travels (local and foreign), must be strictly for official purposes backed with documentary evidence. In this regard, all foreign travels must be for highly essential statutory engagements that are beneficial to the interest of the country. Except with the express approval of Mr President, Ministers, Permanent Secretaries, Chairmen of Extra-Ministerial Departments, Chief Executive Officers and Directors are restricted to not more than two foreign travels in a quarter.
“Also, when a Minister is at the head of an official delegation, the size of such delegation shall not exceed four including the relevant Director, Schedule Officer and one aide of the Minister. Every other delegation below ministerial level shall be restricted to a maximum of three.
“For Class of Air Travels, the President has approved that Ministers, Permanent Secretaries, Special Advisers, Senior Special Assistants to the President, Chairmen of Extra-Ministerial Departments and Chief Executive Officers of Parastatals who are entitled, to continue to fly Business Class while other categories of Public Officers are to travel on Economy Class. Also, travel days will no longer attract payment of Estacode Allowances as the duration of official trips shall be limited to only the number of days of the event as contained in the supporting documents to qualify for public funding.
“The Auditor-General of the Federation has been directed to treat all expenditures that contravene these guidelines as ineligible”.
Meanwhile, the SGF said his attention has been drawn to unrelenting activities of faceless persons using the social media and other platforms to lure unsuspecting members of the public to submit their Curriculum Vitae at a fee, to a non-existing desk at the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, for Federal Government appointments.
The Office said it is similarly aware of inaccurate information being peddled around regarding constituency projects being executed under its supervision. “For the avoidance of doubt, the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation neither executes nor supervises constituency projects”, he said.
“Also, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation has become aware of numerous forged introductory letters purportedly issued from his office seeking diverse favours from individuals and corporate entities for personal gains.
“The general public is by this notice advised to beware of the clandestine activities of these dubious and fraudulent persons and their cohorts going about to fleece unsuspecting members of the public. Assuredly, the Government has evolved measures to track these unpatriotic and faceless persons and will bring to justice anyone found engaging in these unwholesome activities”, the statement added.