Ndubuisi Francis in Abuja
The federal government disclosed yesterday that the monthly wage bill of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) has declined by N20 billion from N165 billion to about N145 billion due to the activities of the Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit.
There has also been a reduction in the MDAs’ overhead expenses by about N15 billion since the establishment of the Efficiency Unit (E-UNIT) by the Federal Ministry of Finance November last year.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Dr. Mahmoud Isa-Dutse and the Head of the E-UNIT, Ms. Patience Oniha, made the disclosures in an interview with journalists on the sidelines of a workshop on cost management for directors of federal MDAs.
The Permanent Secretary who stood in for the minister said the workshop was aimed at helping government manage resources more prudently, adding that since revenue had plummeted, it was imperative not only to look at other ways of generating more resources but how to efficiently manage same.
He pointed out that costs are relatively high even as he pointed out that “we need to manage them” by laying emphasis on priority areas.
Asked to comment on what the federal government’s cost cutting measures had yielded so far, the permanent secretary said the ongoing continuous audit under the Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit had reduced personnel cost by about N20 billion from N165 billion monthly to about N145 billion currently.
Oniha also disclosed that about N15 billion is being saved through overheads with the efficient application of resources and cost cutting measures since the introduction of the E-UNIT.
The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, in an address presented by the permanent secretary, said the workshop was the second of three such events planned by the E-UNIT for federal MDAs and states to sensitise public officials about costs and share them with some tools for managing costs.
Adeosun stated that there was no doubting the fact that it was necessary to review the way government spends to ascertain if such spending are deployed in a manner consistent with future growth and development as well as if the expenditures represent best value for money.
She said: “A sharp and sudden decline in revenues as Nigeria has experienced in recent times at a time when there is an urgent need to develop infrastructure and generate employment b, makes it imperative for us to consider measures for generating more revenue and managing costs better.
“While we have often talked about revenues, budgets and the necessity of government spending, not much has been given to how government actually spends.”
Adeosun stated that it was for that purpose that the E-UNIT was created in her ministry to initiate measures, including controls, limits and processes that will translate to value for money, elimination of wastages and savings for government.
According to her, since the creation of the E-UNIT, it had identified several overhead expenditure items where government spending can be reduced, listing such items as travels, honoraria and sitting allowances, training, advertising and publicity, refreshments and meals, as well as welfare.