By Kunle Akinsola
In a bold move to sanitise public spending, President Muhammadu Buhari, has asked all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to submit their yearly travel plans for statutory meetings and engagements outside the country for scrutiny and approval.
They are to henceforth submit the travel plans 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 to enable them get express clearance within the first quarter of the fiscal year before implementation.
“It is in a bid to curb leakages and ensure efficiency in the management of resources of government.
“The implementation is with immediate effect, as it will will aid additional cost saving measures aimed at instilling financial discipline and prudence, particularly, in the area of official travels,’’ Buhari said in a statement by the Director Information, Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Willie Bassey.
He also directed the MDAs to make their presentations using the existing templates 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 (2) 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 (4) including the relevant Director, Schedule Officer and one (1) Aide of the Minister. Every other delegation below ministerial level shall be restricted to a maximum of three (3).
“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,’’ the statement clarified.
On estacodes, the president said:“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.’’
Buhari directed the Auditor-General of the Federation to henceforth treat all expenditures that contravene the guidelines as official misconduct and violations of statutory financial rules.