Published On: Thu, Oct 17th, 2019

Buhari slashes estacodes on foreign trips

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President Muhammadu Buhari

  • Sets new travel guidelines for ministers, others

By Ese Awhotu

President Muhammadu Buhari has slashed estacodes and the number and duration of foreign trips for ministers and other public officials.
This is as the President approved additional cost saving measures aimed at curtailing financial indiscipline in official travels of Ministers, Permanent Secretaries and other top officials of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs.)
A statement issued by the Office of Secretary to the Government of the Federation yesterday signed by the Director of Information , Willie Bassey,, said henceforth all foreign travels must be for highly essential statutory engagements that are beneficial to the interest of the country.
“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 (2) foreign travels in a quarter,” the statement said.
According to the statement, all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) are henceforth to submit their Yearly Travel Plans for statutory meetings and engagements to the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and/or the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation for express clearance within the first quarter of the fiscal year, before implementation.
It also said MDAs are also to make their presentation using the existing template and also secure approvals on specific travels as contained in the plan, from the appropriate quarters.
It said, all public funded travels must be strictly for official purposes backed with documentary evidence.
The statement added that, “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 Aide of the Minister.
”Every other delegation below ministerial level shall be restricted to a maximum of three.”
For Class of Air Travels, President Buhari approved that Ministers, Permanent Secretaries, Special Advisers, Senior Special Assistants to the President, Chairmen of Extra-Ministerial Departments and Chief Executive Officers of Parastatals who are entitled would 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 statement added.
It said the Auditor-General of the Federation has been directed to treat all expenditures that contravene these guidelines as ineligible.
The statement reads, “In a bid to curb leakages and ensure efficiency in the management of resources of government, President Muhammadu Buhari has approved for immediate implementation, additional cost saving measures aimed at instilling financial discipline and prudence, particularly, in the area of official travels.
“Henceforth, all Ministries, Departments and Agencies are required to submit their yearly travel plans for statutory meetings and engagements to the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and/or the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation for express clearance within the first quarter of the fiscal year, before implementation.
“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 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 who are entitled, to continue to fly business class while other categories of public officers are to travel on economy class.
“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.”

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