Austerity Measures Leaves Top Bosses Bitter
Senior civil servants such as principals, directors, permanent secretaries and Secretary to Cabinet have lost personal-to-holder vehicles following Government decision to immediately abolish the system which has seen the Treasury suffer a massive K1,921.98 billion expenditure in less than five years.
The senior civil servants would now have to buy their own vehicles through the Government’s vehicle loan scheme, which has been established.
Government has also stopped procuring household furniture for VIP houses in which more than K33.5 million has been spent in the last five years and all VIPs would now be responsible for their own household furniture.
Secretary to Cabinet Roland Msiska said in a Cabinet circular minute of 2015 that following President Edgar Lungu’s State of the nation address on 26th November 2015 in which he announced austerity measures including cutting of foreign travels, it had been decided that civil servants would no longer enjoy the luxury of having personal-to-holder motor vehicles.
The abolished posh conditions for senior public officers are historical, having been in place since the days of Dr Kenneth Kaunda.
Dr Msiska said instead of personal-to-holder motor vehicles for public service workers, Government had decided to introduce a Public Service Motor Vehicle Loan Scheme for civil servants under the salary scales between K to R and their equivalent with immediate effect
He stated that available records showed that between 2011 and 2015, Government had procured 504 motor vehicles for senior Government officials at an estimated cost of K219.23 million.
Dr Msiska said it was estimated that Government had also spent over K351.75 million on-duty vehicles for other senior Government officers in the last five years, bringing the total expenditure on procurement of motor vehicles for the senior civil servants to a whooping K670.98 million in the last five years.
He said records at the Ministry of Works and Supply revealed that a total number of 4,022 new vehicles were registered by the Controller of Government Transport between 2012 and 2015 at an estimated staggering cost of K1,251 billion.
“His Excellency the President of the Republic of Zambia Edgar Lungu in his State of the nation address on 26th November, 2015, informed the nation that the Zambian economy has been facing challenges arising mainly from external and in some cases domestic events.
Arising from the above, you are hereby directed to implement cost-saving measures. Cabinet at its 9th meeting held in 2015 approved the establishment of Public Motor Vehicle Loan Scheme for officers in salary scales K to R or equivalent with a view to reduce the Government fleet, maintenance, and running costs and minimise waste, misuse and abuse of public assets.
‘‘The Cabinet decision abolishes the personal-to-holder motor vehicles system in the public service. Effectively, no public civil service officer shall be provided with personal-to-holder motor vehicle,” Dr Msiska said.
He said all Government ministries, provinces and spending agencies had been directed to immediately start utilising the skills and resources available at Zambia’s missions abroad for international assignments as a means of cutting foreign trips.
He said foreign travel by various ministries, Government and quasi-government officials shall now be limited to essential meetings only with the size of delegations to the barest minimum.
“To ensure that the cost of foreign travel is kept low, all requests for authority to travel abroad should be made 30 days before the date of travel. This is to allow procurement of tickets to be done within 14 days before the date of travel,” Dr Msiska said.
President Lungu in his first press conference last year directed a range of measures in his desire to restore fiscal and microeconomic stability which he said was a necessary pre-condition for sustained economic growth.