President Muhammadu Buhari has approved additional cost-saving measures, which is aimed at instilling financial discipline and prudence. Following the directive, henceforth, according to a statement by the director of information in the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF), Willie Bassey, all ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) are required to submit their yearly travel plans for statutory meetings and engagements to the OSGF and/or the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation (OHCSF) for express clearance within the first quarter of the fiscal year, before implementation.
He said they are now 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, he said all public-funded travels (local and foreign) are strictly for official purposes and shall be backed with documentary evidence. In this regard, all foreign travels must be for highly essential statutory engagements that are beneficial to the country.
The statement added, “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 (1) 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,” he added.