The Federal Government on Monday reiterated its pledge to stop all forms of inefficiencies and wastage in the utilisation of the nation’s resources.
The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, said this at the inauguration of the supervising committee of the newly established Efficiency Unit in Abuja.
President Muhammadu Buhari set up the Efficiency Unit to review all government overhead expenditure, to reduce wastage, promote efficiency and ensure quantifiable savings for the country.
Adeosun said no amount of economic policies would deliver the desired results if the manner in which government money was expended was not controlled.
She lamented that while much had been said about effects of corruption on the economy, little attention was given to the damaging effects of inefficiency and wastage.
She said a review carried out by the ministry had discovered wide variations in terms of costs between departments and agencies as there were currently no guidelines on spending.
“In the few weeks I have spent as Minister of Finance, it has become clear that without a radical intervention to manage the costs of government, no meaningful improvement will be recorded.
“No amount of fiscal innovation, financial re-engineering or other well intentioned economic policy will deliver the desired results, for as long as the manner in which government money is expended is not carefully controlled.
“We need to put the fiscal house in order. Inefficient spending is systematic and very hard to identify since it is often embedded in the day to day activities of government.”
She expressed optimism that the Efficiency Unit to be headed by Ms Patience Oniha, Director in the Debt Management Office, would be a catalyst for improving the management and delivery of public services.
“The Federal Government has significant buying power in the market and this must result in keen pricing of all goods and services.
“Our own initial reviews have found wide variations in the prices of basic items between departments and agencies.
“Paper costs varied by up to 80 per cent between departments. Range of prices for airline flights to the same destination differed by 100 per cent.
“Printer cartridges of the same specification ranged in price from N16,000 to N62,000.”
Adeosun said the disparity would no longer be allowed to continue as the current economic situation and reduction of oil prices had exposed the country’s vulnerabilities.
While admitting that there was need for greater efficiency in government spending, the minister commended President Buhari for approving the creation of the unit.
“Nigeria’s Efficiency Unit is not a temporary measure; it is a permanent high profile initiative that will ensure probity in the use of public funds.
“The president’s desire to reduce the cost of governance is an important element of the commitment to deliver change to our nation.”
Adeosun said that the new unit was not a duplication of any existing government agencies, especially the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP).
She said that while the BPP had a mandate to check contract processes, the Efficiency Unit would focus on the day to day expenses of MDAs.
She named members of the committee, including Minister of Finance, Head of Service of the Federation, Accountant-General of the Federation, Auditor-General of the Federation and Director, Budget Office of the Federation.
The committee was mandated to work without fees as their contributions to make government more efficient.