FG bars officials from flying first class

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The Federal Government on Thursday banned its top officials from flying first class whenever they embark on officials trips in a bid to reduce the amount being spent on overhead.

It said henceforth, all top officials like ministers, permanent secretaries, chairmen of committees, as well as chairmen and chief executive officers of its parastatals and agencies would have to travel on business class.

The development was confirmed in a statement issued by the Media Adviser to the Minister of Finance, Mr. Festus Akanbi.

In the past, some government officials, who should have been on business class, usually travelled on first class, while many others travelled business class instead of economy class.

Adeosun said the directive had been captured in a circular on the review of overhead expenses released by the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.

The minister said the development was one of the recommendations made by the Efficiency Unit, which she set up last year to reduce overhead expenses.

The unit was set up to ensure transparency and reduce government’s expenditure through procurement in the various Ministries, Departments and Agencies.

The statement read in part, “The Efficiency Unit, in its negotiation for discounts with local and international airlines, also recommended other measures for reducing the government’s large expenditure on travels to the OSGF.

“This includes the need to restrict business class travel to ministers, permanent secretaries, chairmen of Federal Government committees, as well as chairmen and chief executive officers of parastatals and agencies.

“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.”

It added, “The second recommendation bordered on the need to reduce the frequency of travels 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.

“Furthermore, 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.

“In line with the present administration’s commitment to the reform of public expenditure, the OSGF accepted the recommendations in full and has accordingly issued a circular recently to effect the changes.

“The buy-in and prompt reaction of the OSGF is an attestation to the common resolve by government to its change mantra and the spirit of collaboration among government institutions and officials.”

The statement explained that from the review, it was estimated that travel expenses would drop by about 20 per cent if the provisions of the new circular issued by the OSGF were fully implemented.

The minister said that a 20 per cent reduction in air travel expenditure, using the figure of N69.41bn incurred on air travels in 2014, would result in a cost savings of about N13.88bn.

She said, “Such large savings from travel, which should ordinarily not be a major expense item for the government, will become available for investment in capital projects such as roads, power, railways and public health facilities.

“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 officials of the MDAs, while negotiations are ongoing with others.”

She said the discounts so far received varied across routes and airlines, and ranged from seven per cent to 50 per cent.

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