President Muhammadu Buhari's determination to reduce corruption in governance seem to have begun.
The president has issued a warning to his incoming ministers to stay away from approving payments for contractors. The ministers are expected to be appointed in the coming weeks.
The government new policy clearly states that only the heads of Ministries, Departments and Agencies are saddled with such responsibilities.
According to the Head of Service of the Federation (HoSF), Danladi Kifasi, the Buhari government wants to keep the political class away from issues of finance. He made the disclosure recently at a media briefing in Abuja.
He said: “If a minister travels out and payment is due, we cannot afford to wait for the ministers to come back before we pay.”
Findings by Saturday Vanguard revealed that the HoSF was instructed to make the statement following a constant clash between permanent secretaries of major Federal Government ministries and former ministers in the Jonathan government over the payment of contractors.
Most permanent secretaries and directors of accounts in the ministries fell out with many of the former ministers following their refusal to pay contractors favoured by them.
The Buhari government has however reversed the trend, warning that henceforth, no permanent secretary should allow any minister handle the award and payment for contracts.
The HoSF made it clear that approval of payments for contracts are to be handled by directors of the major ministries and accounting officers.
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He said, “The President has said that his administration will concentrate on policy issues and so we civil servants are re-directing our efforts and minds towards achieving or aligning with the president’s directive.
“Payments are normally approved by the accounting officers. In a parastatal, it is either the managing director or the director-general. In the ministry it is the permanent secretary and not the minster.
“In the procurement process, ministers do not approve either. It is the Ministerial Tenders Board that sits to consider and approve contracts within their approval threshold. If it is beyond the Board, it goes to the Federal Executive Council.
“The only thing a minister does is that he signs the council memo for the procurement that goes to the Federal Executive Council. For the Ministerial Tenders Board which is usually chaired by the Permanent Secretary; the Permanent Secretary sends his report and the minutes of the tenders board to the minister for his concurrence and endorsement. That is their role
“For instance, if ministers were asked to be approving payments, now that there are no ministers will work then stop? So it is actually a misinformation.”
“Consequently, permanent secretaries, Directors, Chief executives of parastatals and agencies are to take appropriate steps to address this situation. All public servants are to note that measures as enshrined in the Public Service Rules will be enforced on erring officers,” he concluded.
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Meanwhile, following a request by the United States government, President Buhari has ordered the re-opening of the widely publicized Halliburton bribery case.