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MDAs Spent N825bn on Travels, Stationery, Others – FG

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The Efficiency Unit of the Federal Ministry of Finance on Wednesday said the government’s Ministries, Departments and Agencies spent a total of N825bn on travels, maintenance, local and international training, welfare and office stationery/computer consumables between 2012 and 2014.

According to the unit, the average amount expended annually on the five items during the period was N275bn, while the estimates for 2015 show a continuation of the trend.

Due to the huge amount spent on the items, the unit said it was planning to introduce detailed price guidelines to ensure value for money in procurement by the MDAs, adding that the use of ministerial debit cards was being piloted to reduce the incidence of cash handling.

The unit, which carried out an extensive and detailed review of the overhead expenditure data of the government for the period 2012 to 2014, found that the spending pattern was concentrated on a limited number of items.

Speaking at a media forum in Lagos on Wednesday, the Head of the Efficiency Unit, Ms Patience Oniha, said, “The cumulative expenditure on these five items was N825bn, representing 61 per cent of the cumulative total overhead expenditure of N1,353bn for 2012 to 2014.

“This means that the average amount expended annually on these five items during this period was N275bn. The estimates for 2015 shows a continuation of this trend. Overhead spending exceeded allocations to capital in all the years reviewed.

“Another finding from the review was the large expenditure on honoraria and sitting allowances, refreshment and meals, books, fuel, publicity and adverts.”

In relation to procurement, which has been identified as a major source of potential savings for the government, Oniha said the unit had prepared a list of goods and services regularly being procured by the MDAs.

By pooling the demand of the MDAs together, she said there would be opportunities to leverage the resultant bargaining power and secure price discounts and other benefits from suppliers, adding that the strategy would deliver savings and reduce the administrative costs inherent in the current fragmented procurement process.

Oniha said, “Developed countries such as the USA, UK, Canada and Hong Kong have used this strategy successfully to manage their expenditure. Within Nigeria, large and diversified private sector organisations manage their procurement in a similar manner.

“As a country, Nigeria should be no exception, more so when resources need to be managed tightly to promote spending on capital projects such as infrastructure.”

She added that the unit had initiated discussions with suppliers of air travel services for the purpose of price negotiation, noting that this expenditure area was prioritised because local and international travels represented the single largest overhead expenditure item in the period under review, with an average of N83bn annually.

This, according to her, will present a potential savings opportunity of N4.14bn annually at an estimated price discount of five per cent.

For honoraria and sitting allowances on which about N13bn is being spent annually, the unit has also identified potential for cost savings.

Oniha gave an assurance that with the support of the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, the unit would pursue the implementation of its recommendations to deliver cost savings to the government, while it would continue its engagement with stakeholders in order to achieve its objectives.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

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UN and Zimbabwe Sign New Cooperation Framework

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The government of Zimbabwe and United Nations have signed the 2022-2026 Zimbabwe United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework that will support the country’s efforts to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The official signing and launch of the Zimbabwe United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework 2022-2026 was presided over by the Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet, Dr Misheck Sibanda and UN Resident Coordinator Maria Ribeiro. UNESCO Regional Director for Southern Africa, Prof. Hubert Gijzen witnessed the signing ceremony together with other UN Country Team members and Government officials.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, Dr Misheck Sibanda said Zimbabwe was grateful for the UN support towards the country’s development in the face of various challenges.

“I want to pay gratitude to Ms Maria Rebeiro for her commitment to uplift the livelihoods of the people of Zimbabwe in the face of natural disasters like the cyclone, droughts and the COVID-19 pandemic,” Dr. Misheck Sibanda.

He took the opportunity to bid farewell to Ms Rebeiro whose term of office ends this year and urged the UN team to continue with the legacy of her hard-work which saw the UN mobilise US$400 million towards promotion of agriculture, climate adaptation and health needs for Zimbabwe.

The UN Resident emphasised the importance of aligning the UN’s programmes with the country’s development strategies.

“In the same spirit of achieving SDGs, climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic are opportunities for us to do better by aligning the country programmed NDS1 with instruments of the UN in resource and financial mobilisation,” Ms. Maria Ribeiro.

The 2022-2026 Zimbabwe United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework (ZUNSDCF) articulates the strategic engagement of the United Nations Country Team (UNCT) in Zimbabwe to support the country to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Anchored on Zimbabwe’s National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1) 2021-2025, the ZUNSDCF encapsulates the shared commitment to leaving no one behind through delivering concrete results that ensure inclusive participation and reaching the people typically left the furthest behind.

The ZUNSDCF with full government ownership throughout the process, is a result of extensive consultations involving a wide range of key stakeholders whose inputs contributed to defining the strategic priorities and implementation modalities.

The ZUNSDCF lays out an ambitious programme to accelerate development progress during the Decade of Action as Zimbabwe strives to recover better and stronger from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fully cognizant of the urgency to act, the ZUNSDCF represents the vehicle through which the UNCT in partnership with the Government of Zimbabwe and other stakeholders, will deliver transformative support that drives inclusive and sustainable economic growth, gender equality, human rights and climate action.

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Fiscal Federalism: Lagos Demands One Percent in Revenue Allocation Formula

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Lagos State Government on Monday demanded a one percent share in the revenue allocation formula, maintaining that the special status of the State and its prosperity directly or indirectly have multiplying effects on the South-West region and the entire country.

Lagos State Government also proposed that the revenue sharing formula should be 34 percent for Federal Government including one percent for FCT – Abuja, 42 percent for State Governments, 23 percent for Local Governments and one percent for Lagos State (Special Status) as against the current revenue allocation formula, which are 52.68 percent, 26.72 percent and 20.60 percent for Federal Government, 36 state governments and 774 local governments respectively.

The demands were made by Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu at the opening of a two-day South-West Zonal Public hearing on the review of revenue allocation formula by the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) held on Monday at Lagos Continental Hotel, Victoria Island.

Governor Sanwo-Olu in a memorandum on review of Revenue Allocation Formula he submitted to the RMAFC declared that allocating one percent for Lagos State (Special Status) and allowing the three tiers of government to share 99 percent in a new revenue sharing formula is very straightforward, self-justifying and in no way controversial.

He said the review of the current revenue allocation formula is long overdue, noting that the best way to guarantee national progress and development is by paying attention to sub-national development because the national is a summation and a reflection of the sub-national.

He also reiterated the call for Lagos State to be accorded special status in recognition of its huge financial commitments to infrastructure and provision of basic amenities for the increasing population of its residents, as well as its preeminent contribution to the national coffers.

He said the call, which has been re-echoed at different fora and at various levels and tiers of government, cannot be overemphasized, especially against the backdrop of the current economic situation of the country, the aftermath of the EndSARS protests a year ago, and the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, for which Lagos has been the national epicenter.

“Our demand is a sharing formula that is just, fair and equitable; reflecting the contribution of stakeholders to the common purse, and also one that enhances the capacity of state and local governments to deliver high-quality services and the full dividends of democracy to the greatest number of our people.

“Lagos State is no doubt the nation’s commercial capital, and population center. The level of funding required to service the State’s social and public infrastructure is so significant that it will be difficult for the State to bear the burden for much longer under the present arrangement.

“I should say that it will actually be unfair to expect the State to bear this heavy burden on its own. It is, therefore, necessary to give due consideration to all the variables that support our advocacy for a Special Status.

“The call for a special status for Lagos is not a selfish proposition; it is in the best interest of the country and all Nigerians, for Lagos which accounts for about 20 percent of the national GDP and about 10 percent of the nation’s population to continue to prosper,” the Governor said.

Justifying the need for Lagos State to be accorded special status, Governor Sanwo-Olu said Lagos is more than just another state in the Nigerian federation, noting that there is no tribe in the country that has no significant stake in Lagos State.

He said: “As the former capital of the country for 77 years (compared to the 30 years that Abuja has been the Federal Capital Territory), Nigeria’s largest metropolis still bears the heavy brunt of being home to all Nigerians; irrespective of age, class, gender, religious affiliation or tribe.

“There are several statistics that show the number of people that comes into Lagos every day, however, there are clear indications that most of these people migrate with the intention to make Lagos their new home and in pursuit of personal dreams due to the opportunities the city-state seemingly possesses, and this portends additional responsibilities on the government.

“Additionally, Lagos still harbors a huge number of federal establishments which could not be moved to Abuja. These include military cantonments and barracks, Police, Customs, Immigration, Civil Defence, Prisons, Road Safety and security/intelligence establishments.

“There are several reasons to justify the call for a special status for Lagos apart from the aforementioned factors and by extension, a review of the Revenue Allocation Sharing Formula.”

Governor Sanwo-Olu also said that it would be unfair for Lagos State to be left alone to bear the burden of the massive destruction experienced by the State during the EndSARS protests hijacked by hoodlums and the COVID-19 pandemic without assistance from the Centre.

“This month marks one year after the massive destruction experienced by the State in the violence that accompanied the hijacking of the EndSARS protests. Public buildings were burnt down, and historical infrastructure was destroyed.

“Although we have put that experience behind us and forged ahead, the reality of this unfortunate incident remains with us; resources that should be committed to other areas of need are now being used for the restoration of these public facilities. It will be totally unfair for Lagos State to be left alone to bear these huge expenses without assistance from the Centre.

“COVID-19 pandemic is another issue that has once again, supported the justification for Lagos to be accorded the privilege of special status. As much as this affects the entire country, it is a fact that the degree of the havoc caused by this virus differs from State to State.

“Lagos was the epicenter for this virus, the same way it was for the Ebola virus some years ago. The management of these unforeseen occurrences comes with huge responsibilities and financial commitments on the part of the State Government,” he said.

Governor Sanwo-Olu commended the Chairman and members of RMAFC for taking a bold step, which he believed will “result in a fundamental alteration of the current revenue sharing formula, in favour of one that is truly fair and equitable, and that takes into full consideration the specific and more pragmatic fiscal contexts of the sub-national governments of the Federation.”

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FG Places 3,964 Nigerians on Watch List, Suspends Passports

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No fewer than 3,964 Nigerians are currently on the watch list of the Nigeria Immigration Service.

The names of the affected individuals, it was gathered, have been placed with security agencies at the nation’s international airports where they will be arrested on sight.

According to the 2020 NIS annual report suspect index, 308 persons were placed on the watch list in 2019, 166 in 2020, while 51 persons were stop-listed in two years.

No fewer than 3, 438 passports are also being watch, while 23 are on the exemption list.

The report states, “Suspect index reviews and maintains the list of persons whose entry into Nigeria is prohibited or on whom special instructions are in place with respect to entry and departure from Nigeria. The travel documents are the instruments used to achieve this objective through synergy with other law enforcement agencies and court of competent jurisdiction.”

In a related development, the NIS has revoked 149, 875 stolen or lost passports and uploaded them to Interpol’s Stolen and Lost Travel Documents database via the Web Services for Data Management platform.

Meanwhile, there are indications that the FG may not meet its 2021 revenue projection from NIS services.

Findings show that there might be revenue shortfall from visa; e-PASS, ECOWAS Residence Card, the Combined Expatriate Residence Permit and Aliens Card and other documents issued by the NIS due to the reduced number of foreign visitors and expatriates in the country following COVID-19 travel restrictions.

Immigration sources said the number of Italians, Britons, South Africans, Chinese, Indians, and other Asians, who constitute a large percentage of expatriates in the country, had reduced on account of travel restrictions imposed by their respective countries.

The erstwhile Comptroller-General of Immigration, Muhammad Babandede had said the service recorded a 40 per cent revenue shortfall in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Figures from the NIS showed that in 2018, the immigration service generated N20.3bn from CERPAC; N40.7bn in 2019, and N16.7bn in 2020.

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