By Favour Nnabugwu

ABUJA — The Federal Government has said that ministers have no power under the Public Service Rules to approve payment for contracts during their tenures in office.

This came on the heels of squabble in some ministries over refusal by Permanent Secretaries and Directors to pay contractors on the directives of out-gone Ministers.

The Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Mr Danladi Kifasi who cleared the air on what he described as a misconception of political appointees to encroach in approval of payment, stated that approval of payments for contract are strictly the jurisdiction of accounting officers or directors of the various ministries, emphasising that ministers have no powers to approve payment for contracts or whatsoever.

The Head of Service who was apparently in support of the refusal of Permanent Secretaries to pay contractors, said their action are in line with the Procurement Act and circular which patently defined roles in MDAs.

He said, “The President did say that his administration will concentrate on policy issues and so we civil servants are redirecting 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 not the minister.”

“In the procurement process, ministers do not approve either. It is the Ministerial Tender 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 Tender Board which is usually chaired by the Permanent Secretary; the Permanent Secretary sends his report and the minute of the tender board to the minister for his concurrence and endorsement. That is their role.”

“The reason is that government wants to keep the political class away from issues of finance so that development of our country can go ahead because if a minister travels out and payment is due, we cannot afford to wait for the ministers to come back before we pay.”

“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 miss-information.”

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