CAMA asks SPC to account on effectiveness and gains made on Chakwera’s cost cutting measures in public service

Zamba, appointed as SPC in June

* The report could be provided against each austerity measure wherever possible

* How many parastatals have made significant savings with these measures

* Size of delegations travelled and how many Ministers have travelled during the past three months

By Duncan Mlanjira

Consumer Association of Malawi (CAMA) has written Secretary to the President & Cabinet (SPC), Collen Zamba to brief Malawians on the effectiveness and gains made from the austerity measures that President Lazarus Chakwera put in place in May.

Advertisement

CAMA Executive Director, John Kapito said President Chakwera entrusted Zamba when he had just appointed her as the new SPC “to ensure compliance of these measures — hence we are requesting your office to provide us with such information”.

Thus CAMA asking for a detailed report on the savings or actions that have been realized from those austerity measures and further demands if “the report could be provided against each austerity measure wherever possible”.

“The detailed report should be on savings or actions that have come out as a result of the enforcement of these measures. For example, how many parastatals have made significant savings with these measures, size of delegations travelled and how many Ministers have travelled during the past three months.”

John Kapito

Kapito emphasized that Chakwera announced the austerity measures or cost cutting measures within the public service hoping the Government should share “the burden of the high cost of living being experienced by Malawians and also reduce high unnecessary public service expenditure”.

“The President made these commitments as a result of Public demand for Government to reduce its appetite for reckless expenditure of public money,” Kapito said. “It is now three months since these austerity measures were announced and it is important for your office to brief Malawians on the effectiveness and the gains.

“Malawians are interested and have the right to know how these measures have achieved their intended objectives,” said Kapito of the austerity measures which Chakwera emphasized were not subject to amendment by any Government Ministry, Agency, Department or Parastatal without prior authorization from the Office of the President.

President Chakwera

Soon after Chakwera made the announcement, Zamba issued directives for all public institutions that all Grade D directors and other senior officers should be allocated 250 litres of fuel a month for use in government vehicles assigned to them.

Zamba also notified the concerned senior government officers that this was a follow up to her circular she issued on June 3, 2022 on the expenditure control measures, saying: “Controlling officers are advised to ensure that only those officers who have received authority from my Office to self-drive are allocated this fuel and that this authority only applies for local travel”.

“For long distance travel, they should be assigned drivers from the pool,” she had said.

Advertisement

Meanwhile, the detailed austerity measures Chakwera announced, which Kapito had also indicated in his letter to Zamba, are:

1) Public officers, including the President, who need to travel abroad for their work out of absolute necessity will only be allowed to take no more than three trips during the remainder of the year, unless in cases of unforeseen extreme emergency;

2) The number of people in a delegation travelling abroad will be subjected to stringent restrictions;

3) No top-up allowances will be paid to public officers on fully funded trips for work, training, workshops or conferences;

4) Ministry officials traveling within the region for work must fly economy class;

5) All controlling officers will be held responsible for ensuring strict adherence to spending limits we have set for domestic travel;

6) All boards of state-owned enterprises and statutory corporations must confine themselves to quarterly meetings, plus one extraordinary meeting per quarter for emergency situations pursuant to the approval of the line Minister, unless allowed otherwise by the President’s office;

7) Allocations of fuel allowance for all Cabinet Members is to be cut by 20%;

8) The issuance of fuel to public officers who are not entitled to the same is forbidden, and my office will soon provide detailed guidelines on how this will be regulated;

9) The Minister of Transport is directed to provide guidelines to MDAs for the Government-wide adoption of distance charts to regulate fuel consumption per vehicle;

10) The movement of pool vehicles owned by the Government beyond 6pm shall be restricted, and no driver shall be permitted to take such vehicles to their homes, and controlling officers must justify to my office any emergency exceptions to be made;

11) Procurement of new vehicles by MDAs has forthwith been suspended until further notice from the President’s office, and when this restriction is lifted, his office will regulate what model of vehicles are procured for public officers of different grades to end the culture of people feeling entitled to 4x4s;

12) To end the practice of public officers driving Government vehicles they are not authorized to, all public officers authorized to self-drive will soon be issued with an authorization card to be enforced on the roads by the police;

13) The renewal or signing of new employment contracts in all state-owned enterprises is forbidden forthwith, except for special circumstances that must be approved by the President’s office, and this restriction will not be lifted until the Office of the Comptroller of Statutory Corporations is done reviewing the remuneration in this sector to ensure that it reflects the state of the economy and the performance of the institution;

14) No procuring entity in the Government shall be allowed to import goods or services into the country unless proof that the goods and services cannot be procured locally is submitted to and approved by the Minister of Finance;

15) To build a robust monitoring system that ensures strict adherence to these measures and other directives in all MDAs, I have appointed Ms. Colleen Zamba as the new Secretary to the President and Cabinet with immediate effect, taking over from Mr. Zanga-Zanga Chikhosi, whom I am deploying elsewhere. Ms. Zamba will communicate other spending control measures in due course.

Advertisement