By Chinwendu Obienyi
FBN Holdings Plc, FCMB and eight other banks quoted on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) spent a total of about N12.2 billion on travels in the financial year ended December 31, 2020.
Daily Sun analysis of the banks’ financial statement in the year under review shows that this represents a 38.7 per cent drop from the N19.8 billion spent over the same period in 2019, and much lower than the N22.56 billion recorded in 2018.
The eight others whose travel expenditures were analysed include; GTBank, Zenith Bank, United Bank of Africa (UBA), Union Bank of Nigeria (UBN), Fidelity Bank Plc, Wema Bank, Stanbic IBTC, and Sterling Bank Plc.
Highlights obtained from their 2020 financial statements revealed that of all the banks, UBA incurred the most on travels last year with N4.94 billion as against N7.06 billion in 2019. FBN Holdings was next with N3.67 billion as against N6.78 billion in 2019, Zenith Bank spent N1.882 billion in 2020 as against N2.751 billion in 2019 while Fidelity Bank spent the least on travels in 2020, compared with its competitors, recording N217 million in 2020.
According to information obtained from GTBank’s audited financial statement for full-year 2020, about N287 million was spent on travels in 2020. The amount is less than the N726 million, which the bank incurred for the same purpose in 2019, and the N727 million in 2018.
The travel costs of Stanbic IBTC stood at N676 million in 2020 as against N1.73 billion in 2019 while UBN recorded a low travel expense in 2020 with a travel spend of N514 million against the N518 million incurred in 2019 and N1.136 billion in 2018.
This means that the banks spent N12.2 billion in 2020 and according to analysts at Nairametrics, the drop could be attributed to the lockdown imposed by the Federal Government due to the COVID-19 pandemic which hit the nation in February 2020.
They further argued that the development forced most businesses, including banks, to switch to virtual operations in compliance with the government’s sit-at-home directive.
The lull was not limited to the travel expenses of the banks alone as it also took a toll on the revenue of airlines and aviation handling firms.
The pandemic, which warranted nationwide lockdown measures, had adverse effects on businesses (the banking sector included) and the economy as a whole. Many financial institutions, especially in commercial cities, were forced to suspend operations, resulting in job losses and salary cuts.
As financial services were not categorised by the government as essential services, the comparatively large drop in bank travel expenses was not unexpected.