The Nigerian government on Wednesday announced a raft of austerity measures to save on the trips taken by state and public officers.
The announcement comes against the backdrop of President Muhammadu Buhari presenting a record 10.33 trillion-naira ($33.8 billion) budget for 2020, which is intended to jump-start growth in Africa’s largest economy.
The government said that all trips, local or foreign, that are funded by taxpayers must be strictly for official reasons and must be supported by the necessary evidence.
“In this regard, all foreign travels must be for highly essential statutory engagements that are beneficial to Nigeria’s interest,” a statement from the presidency said.
All ministries, departments and agencies were ordered to submit their annual travel plans for legitimate meetings to the relevant authorities for approval within a certain period before implementation.
The government also restricted the number of annual foreign trips taken by senior officials, with special cases subject to consideration.
“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.
The government also imposed checks on the size of government delegations that accompany ministers on their trips.
“Also, when a Minister is at the head of an official delegation, the size of such delegation shall not exceed 4 including the relevant Director, Schedule Officer and 1 Aide of the Minister. Every other delegation below ministerial level shall be restricted to a maximum of 3,” the presidency said
Nigeria’s official delegations are notoriously large and costly with critics arguing that some members have little or nothing to do with the event they are attending.
The government added that senior officials, including ministers, permanent secretaries and special advisers, will continue to fly business class. Other categories of public officers are to travel on economy class.
Additionally, the government will no longer pay allowances as the duration of official trips shall be limited to only the number of days of the event.
The Auditor-General has been ordered to treat all expenditures that do not comply with the new regulations as ineligible.