Malawi gov’t issues 19-point cost-cutting measures

Malawi Government has instituted at least 19 financial control expenditure measures in the wake of aid freeze following the Capital Hill plunder.

In a 13-paged circular from the Chief Secretary to the Government, Hawa Ndilowe, sent to all controlling officers and heads of departments, all Chief Executive Officers of parastatals and heads of subvented organisations; government has warned that failure to comply with the set measures would lead to disciplinary action.

The measures include suspension of internal and government funded external travels except where the travel is deemed “very critical” and “absolutely essential”.

Reads the circular: “Only travel which is very critical to the implementation of essential services will be allowed.

Ndilowe: Issued the circular on expenditure control measures

“For this purpose, essential services shall include: occurrence of emergencies and disasters; issues that require immediate and rapid response from specialized bodies/institutions; and activities related to the ministries/departments core and high priority business.”

The communication dictates that on rare and exceptional occasions where external travel is absolutely essential and has been sanctioned by the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) for public servants, ticket for such travel should be bought directly from the airline and not from travel agents.

“For this purpose, critical travel mean: medical referral cases abroad that have been certified for external treatment by the Government External Referral Committee and duly approved by government; and fully funded travel related to essential and official foreign commitments in respect of which there will be no financial outlay from government and no top up allowance,” reads the statement which is dated November 19, 2013.

The control measures also limit the sanctioned ministerial delegations to a maximum of three representatives including the Minister.

Like in its December, 2012 communication on the same, government procurement of capital assets has been frozen, and there is a directive that all government vehicles should be parked at secure government offices from 6:00 pm to 6:00 am during weekdays and all day during Saturdays and Sundays.

The directive, however, exempts ambulances, police, Immigration, Malawi Defense Force vehicles and vehicles belonging to Ministers, Deputy Ministers, Principal Secretaries and other public servants who are specifically entitled to official government vehicles as a benefit.

Pool vehicles at each ministry are restricted to just three, except in cases of the above listed departments and donor funded project vehicles.

The measures further charge controlling officers with the responsibility of ensuring fuel management in line with Travel Policy and Accountant General’s fuel handling procedure.

“I would like to direct for immediate implementation that all Lories and Minibuses and their drivers should be transferred to PVHO for ease of access by everyone when needed,” wrote Ndilowe, adding: “All stationery, medical and printing services would continue to be purchased from the Central Government Stores, the Central Medical Stores and Government Printing Services, respectively.”

Government has also put restrictions on recruitment, use of water in government offices and that all offices should install pre-paid utility meters for electricity and telephone.

All meetings, workshops and seminars are to be held in the city, district or area where the majority of participants reside, and where possible, in institutional venues, conference rooms or halls.

“Officers shall not be paid for performing duties such as workshop facilitation and paper presentation for which they receive salary,” reads the nineteenth point of the Expenditure Control Measures.

On Accounting Control Measures, government has directed that all government procurement should be on cash basis and that accumulation of arrears would not be entertained.

Government has further directed that every procurement should be accompanied by an IFMIS generated LPO authorized by the Controlling officer or a designated senior officer, and that any activity whose value is over 5 million kwacha should be personally authorized by the Controlling Officer.

The circular further says the measures are to be observed with immediate effect and that they should be observed in addition to the measures contained in the OPC’s circular dated December 07, 2012.

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