Abuja — The Federal Government has slashed estacodes and foreign trips for ministers and heads of parastatals. Among other cost saving measures is the restriction of foreign travels to two per quarter for ministers, heads and top officials of Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs.
Similarly, first class air tickets for some categories of officials have been cancelled.
Efforts to get the reactions of the Senate and House of Representatives proved futile at press time last night, as telephone calls to the mobile phones of their spokespersons rang out without response. Text messages were also not replied.
Also, the Federal Government will review downwards the allowances of public office holders, including governors and lawmakers, according to the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige.
Ngige disclosed this yesterday during a meeting with members of the National Union of Local Government Employees, NULGE, in Abuja.
Spokesman of Nigerian Governors’ Forum, NGF, Abdulrazaq Bello Barkindo, said the governors would meet next week to take a realistic position on the matter
However, Ngige said the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission, RMAFC, had been directed to review the allowances.
Ngige also decried the huge sum of recurrent expenditure in the proposed 2020 budget, insisting that there was no option than cutting down the cost of running the government.
“We cannot allow the government to shut down the economy because they want to pay salaries and wages. The 2020 budget of N10.3trillion has N3.88trillion as personnel cost without an overhead; a budget that is 76% recurrent and 24% capital, for me, is nothing to cheer about.
“The Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation & Fiscal Commission will also beam the searchlight and review what they are giving to political office-holders. Some of the allowances in their prescriptions are not allowances that should be got.
“What is a governor doing with hazard allowance? What is the hazard about when the state is feeding him and his family? What is a governor doing with constituency allowance? The whole state is his constituency. These are things that will be holistically reviewed,” Ngige said.
The minister concluded that both workers and politicians must be ready to make sacrifices so that more money will be available for infrastructure.
Govs to take position
Meanwhile, governors, under the aegis of Nigeria Governors Forum, NGF, said yesterday that they would meet to take a position on the matter.
Speaking with Vanguard yesterday on the development, Head Media and Public Affairs, NGF, Abdulrazaque Barkindo, said the NGF cannot take a position until all the governors meet, adding that since the governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, came on board as chairman of the forum, issues and resolutions had been democratized.
According to him, no statement is made on any policy until all the governors meet, brainstorm on it and take a decision.
Barkindo, who noted that the NGF had been carrying out its activities along such line, said: “Things like these are usually tabled for discussions and since the NGF Chairman, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, came on board, he democratized every process where all the governors will meet to take a decision that would be binding on all before any statement could be made and we have been following him this way.
“The governors will probably meet next week and the issue will be thrown up and at the end of the day, a realistic position would be taken. They will decide together as governors. “
Why FG slashed estacode for ministers, others
On estacode and foreign travels, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Boss Mustapha in a statement by the Director, Information in his office, Willie Bassey, said the decision was “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 of additional cost-saving measures aimed at instilling financial discipline and prudence, particularly, in the area of official travels.
The directive read: “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 presentations, 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 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 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 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 had 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 was 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.
“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, 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.