The federal government has reduced the frequency of meetings of part-time chairmen and members of committees, boards of statutory corporations and government-owned companies from eight to four times annually.
The government, by this move, hopes to save over N1 billion per annum from sitting allowances, a statement from the Efficiency Unit of the Federal Ministry of Finance has said.
The Efficiency Unit, in its recommendation to the federal government, through the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, however, noted that the allowances of N150, 000 to N40, 000 and N120, 000 to N30, 000 per sitting for chairmen and members respectively appeared reasonable.
But it stated that the increase in number of meetings from four to eight was rather too high, noting that it doubled the cost of sitting allowances for the government.
According to the unit, the reduction in the frequency of meetings by such bodies followed a review by the Unit and the discovery that the average annual expenditure on honorarium and sitting allowances between 2012 and 2014 was N12.8 billion.
“A maximum of four meetings was considered adequate for Boards, while other interactions can be conducted using Information Communication Technology (ICT), which is cheaper and already tested in Nigeria,” the Efficiency Unit explained.
Upon accepting the recommendation of the Efficiency Unit to reduce the frequency of meetings by committees and Boards of parastatals and agencies, the secretary to the government of the federation recently issued a circular directing the implementation of the reduction of meetings to four per annum, thus bringing standard, transparency and cost-cutting measures in the payment of sitting allowances.
The Efficiency Unit said it will continue with its on-going efforts and collaboration with the relevant government offices in line with the resolve of the minister of finance to remain committed to her cost-cutting initiative, which is one of the tools for achieving fiscal prudence and releasing of funds for capital projects that will support economic growth and improve the living standard of Nigerians.
The federal government also hopes to save at least N12 billion annually from procurement of stationery and other consumables if pricing for goods and services by the ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) were standardised.
It also envisaged that another N4 billion could be saved on annual travel costs. The Unit has also engaged local and international airlines to secure discounts commensurate with the large number of ticket purchases by government annually.
With the large number of government appointees and civil servants traveling on official assignments (local and foreign), such savings secured on discounted amount will increase the funding available to the government for capital investment, it said.