From Uche Usim, Abuja
If its permutations go as planned, the Ministry of Finance is hopeful that Nigeria may save up to N15 billion annually from air travels for its workers in various Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
Director of Information in the ministry, Salisu Danbatta, who disclosed this at the weekend, said the ministry signed an agreement with Dana Airlines to give 50 per cent discount on official air travel tickets to MDAs; a move he described as part of government’s cost saving initiative.
According to him, the discount was championed by the Efficiency Unit of the ministry, saying it was one of the cost management steps taken to reduce wastages and leakages in public sector expenditure.
He added that the cost saving initiative paid off as the unit was able to secure discounts ranging from five per cent to 50 per cent from 19 local and foreign airlines in 2016.
Danbatta revealed that Dana was the first of the agreements to be completed, adding that those of other airlines were at various stages of finalisation.
“When completed, the savings to government from the discounts is estimated at N5 billion per annum.
‘These discounts, when considered alongside the restrictions on the class and frequency of travels introduced in 2016 through circulars issued by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation (HoCSF) would translate to a savings totaling N15 billion yearly on travels.”
“While agreements with other airlines are being finalized, the Efficiency Unit is currently making arrangements for additional savings from the procurement of stationery, computers and computer accessories, vehicles and photocopiers, amongst others”, he said.
Danbatta disclosed that the Federal Government was represented at the signing of the agreement by the Permanent Secretary of the Finance Ministry, Mahmoud Isa-Dutse and the Head of the Efficiency Unit, Patience Oniha. Dana Airline on its part was represented by Head of Ground Operations, Mr. Ememobong Ettete and Mrs. Joy Nwogu.
“In his remarks at the occasion, the Permanent Secretary said the Federal Government was doing everything within its power to reduce operational costs while maximizing the gains. He commended Dana Airlines for being the first airline operating in the country to partner with the Federal Government on air ticket cost reduction for government workers on official trips.
“In his response, Mr. Ememobong Ettete said Dana Airline was committed to the agreement and commended the Federal Government for the initiative”, Danbatta said.
The Spokesman added that in 2016, the Efficiency Unit of the Ministry identified Federal Government’s large purchasing power which could be leveraged to secure discounts from suppliers of standard goods, including air travel tickets.
He added that the unit thus proceeded to request for discounts from airlines operating in Nigeria.