FG bans ministers, others, from flying first class
The Federal Government has banned ministers and permanent secretaries from flying first class while on official trips in a bid to cut government expenditure.
Others banned from using first class included chairmen of federal government committees, as well as chairmen and chief executives of parastatals and agencies, said Festus Akanbi, spokesman for the minister of finance, Kemi Adeosun, in a statement.
Akanbi said such top officials would be expected to travel in business class or economy class as applicable. “In the past, some government officials who should have been on Business Class usually travelled First Class, while many others travelled Business Class instead of Economy,” he said.
Akanbi noted that the measure was part of the recommendations made by the Efficiency Unit of the Federal Ministry of Finance to the Office of the Secretary of the Government of the Federation (OSGF) as part of its mandate to “to engender transparency and reduce government’s large expenditure through procurement in the various ministries, departments and agencies of the Federal Government.”
He emphasised that the OSGF has accepted the “recommendations in full and has accordingly issued a Circular recently to effect the changes.”
He explained that the Unit, established by the Minister for Finance, had also negotiated with local and international airlines on the need to give the government discounts on air travels.
The Efficiency Unit also recommended cuts in the frequency of travels embark on by officials by ensuring that board and committee events such as meetings, workshops and conferences in Nigeria are held in locations where the institutions or persons participating in the event are domiciled.
Akanbi said, “such events should, for the most part, be held in Nigeria but where this is not possible, the prior approval of the Secretary to the Federal Government should be secured.”
He said the measures, when fully implemented, would lead to about 20% reduction in travel expenditure. According to him, a 20% reduction in air travel expenditure, using the figure of N69.417 billion incurred on travels in 2014 will result in a cost-cutting of N13.88 billion.
“The savings are expected to be even larger when discounts secured from Airlines are added. Already, 11 Airlines have offered discounts on local and international routes for travel by MDAs while negotiations are on-going with others. The discounts received so far vary across routes and airlines and range from 7% to 50%.
“The Efficiency Unit expects the implementation of the price discounts secured from Airlines to start in May 2016 when the Agreements would have been signed with the Airlines and MDA staff would have been trained and equipped for the effective administration of the new process.
“Other Overhead Expenditure items reviewed by the Efficiency Unit are those relating to Refreshments and Meals, Honorarium and Sitting Allowance as well as Advertising and Publicity. Measures that will standardise spending on these items, cut costs and promote transparency on these items have been recommended to the OSGF and the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, from which further cost-cutting on Overhead Expenditure is to be achieved.”