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Cost of governance: FG May Save Over N5bn Quarterly over ban on foreign trips


Cost of governance: FG May Save Over N5bn Quarterly over ban on foreign trips

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The Federal Government may save an estimated amount of over N5bn every quarter from the new policy banning officials of Ministries, Departments and Agencies from embarking on public-funded foreign trips for three months, according to an analysis of government budget data by this newspaper.

The data was collated from the breakdown of funds earmarked for international travels in the 2024 budget by 103 MDAs.

President Bola Tinubu had raised concerns about the rising costs of international travels borne by director, permanent sectaries and workers of the federal civil service.

As result, the president in a letter dated March 12, 2024; signed by the Chief of Staff to the President, Femi Gbajabiamila; and addressed to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, George Akume, banned government officials from embarking on public-funded trips overseas.

The ban, which is meant to reduce costs in governance, will become effective April 1, 2024.

It read partly, “Considering the current economic challenges and the need for responsible fiscal management, I am writing to communicate Mr President’s directive to place a temporary ban on all public funded international trips for all Federal Government officials at all levels, for an initial period of three months from Ist April 2024.”

It added, “This temporary measure is aimed at cost reduction in governance and intended as a cost-saving measure without compromising government functions.”

Tinubu, however, added that government officials who needed to go on any public-funded foreign trip must seek and get presidential approval at least two weeks before embarking on such trip, which must be ‘deemed absolutely necessary’.

The latest development came days after Nigerians, civil society organizations and rights groups lambasted the Accountant General of the Federation, commissioners of finance of the 36 states of the federation and other government officials for choosing to hold a workshop in the United Kingdom at a time when the economy was experiencing a major downturn.

However, in the breakdown, the latest policy by the Tinubu administration is expected to affect 43 permanent secretaries. According to findings, there are currently 43 PS under the Federal Civil Service.

According to an analysis of MDAs notable for travelling, the State House (Presidency) will save about N1.74bn in three months while the Vice President’s office will save N307.3m. The Ministry of Petroleum Resources with a total budget of N1.19bn for international travel will save N299.5m in three months.

Further analysis also stated that the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment will save N176.79m if the directive is implemented. Also, the National Defence College will save N984.6m from its total budget of N3.9bn for overseas travel while the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission will save N434.56m. Similarly, the Nigerian Intelligence Agency will save N860.8m from its total budget of N1.04bn. The Office of the Secretary General of the Federation will save N47.5m if it adheres to the presidential directive while the auditor general will return N114.9m to government coffers due to the policy.

Furthermore, the Finance Ministry will save N173.2m while the Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning will keep N173m if its workers shelve plan to travel internationally. For the Command and Staff College, a total of N631.48m will be saved in three months. The Ministry of Justice will preserve N212.32m if the directive is implemented while the Youth Development Ministry will save N70.8m.

Findings show that the cost could be more if foreign trips budgets of other MDAs that are not notable for travelling overseas are also incurred.