If Finance Minister Felix Mutati is serious about cost-saving, instead of banning first-class flying for executives of loss-making State owned Enterprises (SoEs), he should abolish personal-to-holder car schemes in all Government and quasi-government institutions, Green Party leader Peter Sinkamba has charged.
“The decision by Minister of Finance Felix Mutati to ban chief executives of loss-making State owned Enterprises (SoEs) from flying first-class is no saving at all. How many such executives really often fly overseas? Even when they fly locally, how many of them do actually first-class? What first-class is there to fly in Zambia between Lusaka and Livingstone or indeed between Lusaka and Ndola? Isn’t it Ministers and their Permanent Secretaries who day-in-day out fly abroad in first-class and business-class?” Sinkamba asked.
“If Mutati is serious about cost-saving, he should first of all abolish personal-to-holder car schemes in Government and quasi-government institutions. This is where there is really serious waste of public resources. A loan scheme which is currently obtaining at Parliament should be uniform across the public service. It should be integrated too. If one gets a loan through Parliament, that person should not be eligible to get a similar loan through the Executive or indeed the Judiciary branch of Government. There should be a one-person-one car loan policy across the continuum of Government,” Sinkamba said, adding, “and those cars gotten should be used for official business too, whereby Government’s role should be to provide a modest allowance for fuel and car maintenance only.”
On banning first-class flying, the Green Party leader said the ban should be extended to all officials in Government and quasi-government institutions, including the President and Vice President. He said such a ban should not be by word of mouth. It must be written policy and enacted as law so that it is not easily changed when there is regime change.
“Take for instance during the reign of the late Levy Mwanawasa and Michael Sata, they banned flying first-class besides the President and Vice President. However, because these measures were by way of word of mouth and not written policy and enacted as law, as soon as there was regime change, the austerity measures thrown to the wind. There was policy change as soon as the leaders were buried. So, based on the lesson learnt from the past, we need to do things differently by putting measures to paper through written policy and enacted as law,” Sinkamba said.
“If you look at the 2018 budget expenditure for General Public Service, Mutati increased it from 27.9 per cent of the budget to 35.6 per cent. This is almost a 10 per cent increase. The trouble is that the bulk of it is going towards buying of new cars, fuel and maintenance expenses as well as first-class and business class flying. This sort of waste of public resources should really come to an end. We need to dedicate more of our meager resources towards deserving areas, especially social protection, housing for the poor, health and education,” Sinkamba added.
Last week Minister of Finance Felix Mutati banned first-class international travel on aeroplanes for chief executive officers (CEOs) of State-owned enterprises.
And Mr Mutati has directed that parastatals should start publishing quarterly reports in newspapers on the performance of their companies.
Mr Mutati said CEOs should also seek authority and clearance from the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) whenever they are undertaking an international trip.
The minister said this during the first-ever CEO conference for State-owned enterprises which also attracted board chairpersons, heads of finance and company secretaries.