• Friday, July 19, 2024
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Ministers, public office holders get ultimatum to cut travel expenses

Tinubu congratulates Okonjo- Iweala at 70, Ojora, at 92

In what seems to be keep- ing to its determination of cutting cost of govern- ance as revenue tight- ens, the Nigerian Federal Government has formally directed its ministers and other public office holders to cut down on travel expenses in a recent memo to them.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, coordinating minister for the economy and minister of finance, said on Tuesday that not only have the circulars gone out to all concerned, a committee has also been set up to monitor compliance with this directive. The government officials are also not supposed to travel on anything more than the business class ticket at government expense, the minister said. “We have moved to cut down on the cost of main- tenance of government of- ficials and even right now, the ministers have received circulars on travels. ‘They cannot travel on more than business class for instance.

If you want to do that, it cannot be at the cost of government,” the minister stated as she tried to reassure on government commit- ment to ensure authorities lead by examples and not just talks. ”The circular went out both by the head of service and secretary to govern- ment, not just ministers but political appointees,” she added. She said these are some of the measures the gov- ernment is instituting in the short-term to improve spending with the hope that the entire exercise which is already being implemented will save the economy a total of N82.5 billion.

Read also: MDAs air travel costs to drop by N13.88bn on efficient spending, says Adeosun

Strategies to cut spending also include proposed cuts to international travels and training by 50 percent for all MDAs, saving about N14 bil- lion, while other provisions for overhead expenditure were dropped completely in the 2015 budget– saving about N4 billion.

MDA’s provisions for the procurement of administra- tive supplies and equipment was also cut, saving about N5 billion; procurement and upgrade of buildings were similarly curtailed, saving about N44 billion, while another N76 billion is proposed for reallocation to more impactful programmes of government in the secu- rity, health, and education sectors.

Okonjo-Iweala also con- firmed that government has commenced a review of the implementation of pioneer status exemptions and is already sending out letters to those companies affected. Analysis shows that about 30 percent of those that received tax waivers from government especially under the pioneer status scheme now abuse the sys- tem.

The minister had said in her budget speech in De- cember that firming up tax waivers and exemptions is expected to unlock up to N36 billion of additional tax revenues in 2015.

Speaking further on ef- forts to cut down expendi- ture, she disclosed the gov- ernment has saved about N200 billion so far, and weeded out about 63,000 ghost workers from over 359 MDAs through the im- plementation of Integrated Payroll and Personnel Infor- mation System (IPPIS) alone, and even hopes to save more through this channel.