President Muhammadu Buhari’s decision to set new travel guidelines for public officials is a confirmation of his pledge to cut down the cost of governance.
According to the Buhari Media Organisation (BMO), it also shows that the President has the political will to keep his vow to effect cost-saving measures in line with efforts to ensure proper management of public funds.
BMO said in a statement signed by its Chairman Niyi Akinsiju and Secretary Cassidy Madueke, that the move is the first step towards cutting down recurrent expenditure and institutionalising financial prudence.
“President Buhari has never left any doubt about his position on the high cost of governance and only recently he renewed his vow to slash the cost when he received members of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC) at the State House.
“So it was not a surprise when new travel guidelines were issued on the President’s instruction by the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation detailing the slash in travels and estacodes for ministers and senior public officials.
“We are delighted over the mandate handed down to Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to seek approval for travel plans, as well as the decision to restrict foreign travels to two per quarter for ministers, heads of parastatals and top government officials.
“This would clearly go a long way in sanitizing the system as well as ensuring a reduction in government expenditure.
“And now that he has introduced new travel guidelines aimed at instilling financial discipline, we are convinced that the country is now firmly on a path to cutting down the cost of running the government.
“We acknowledge that this is going on at a time that the Buhari administration is blocking leakages in government expenditure through the full implementation of the Treasury Single Account (TSA), Biometric Verification Number (BVN) and the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) which on its own the Federal Government has in two years used to save N273bn that could have gone into private pockets”, it said.
The group noted that it was also looking forward to more action on the allowances of public office holders including governors and federal lawmakers.
“We now know that the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) has a directive to work on a review of the allowances of certain categories of public officers.
“There is also a Presidential Committee on Salaries headed by the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning Zainab Ahmed, and co-chaired by Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, which has a brief to work on a downward review of overhead costs.
“These are clear pointers to the President’s readiness to ensure that the country has more funds for capital projects across the country than personnel costs for civil servants and a handful of public office holders.”
BMO assured Nigerians that President Buhari would ensure full implementation of the cost-cutting measures.