By Staff Reporters

SOME ministers and Permanent Secretaries (PS) are split over the austerity measures introduced by government.

According to cabinet office sources, some ministers and PS are unhappy while other are supportive of the recent circular that announced that scrapping of fuel allowances and personal to holder vehicles for ministers and permanent secretaries as part of government measures to reduce expenditure.

This follows Finance Minister Margaret Mwanakatwe announced that President Edgar Lungu had introduced several new austerity measures in an effort to address the country’s worsening debt crisis.

“The austerity measures introduced by government have caused some divisions among government officials with some supporting while others feel they should not be punished for the mistakes of previous ministers over debt,” said a source. “They cannot just speak out for fear of being targeted for intimidation. Otherwise some of them are hurt going by what they are saying in the corridors.”

 According to a Cabinet Circular Number 12 of 2018 issued to the Secretary to the Treasury and other relevant authorities, Ministers would only use one vehicle and that fuel allowances within station would be borne by themselves.

According to cabinet sources, the release of the circular was aimed at ensuring that measures were adhered to and harmonising all allowances.

 “A motor vehicle allowance, which shall be paid through the payroll at the rate of sixty (60) percent of monthly basic salary, plus total of statutory allowances has been introduced with effect from 1st January 2018,” reads the circular. “Ministers shall now be required to buy fuel for their official ministerial and personal motor vehicles within the district boundaries of the station. Government shall continue to maintain the official ministerial vehicle.”

The circular also stated that allowances already paid will be recovered adding that ministers would not be entitled to a personal-to-holder motor vehicle.

“The entitlement to a personal-to-order motor vehicle has been monetized. To this effect, motor vehicle replacement allowance has been introduced to be paid at a fixed monthly rate of K32, 715, 20 through the payroll with effect from 1st January, 2018. Government shall not provide a personal-to-holder motor vehicles to ministers.”

According to the circular, Cabinet and provincial ministers would only be eligible to have one official ministerial vehicle which shall not be sold to them at the expiry of a contract.

The circular further stated that other measures introduced include harmonization of allowances for domestic and security guards while Water, electricity, domestic servants, cell and land phone allowances have been consolidated into a non-statutory allowance which will be paid at a fixed monthly rate of K9, 975. 00 through the payroll with effect from 1st January 2018.

“This entails that ministers shall not be paid water, electricity, domestic servants, cell and land phone allowances from the Recurrent Department Charges (RDCs) with effect from 31st December 2017. Note that, whatever amounts have been paid in the form of above allowances from 1st January 2018, shall be recovered,” it states.

The circular further indicated that conditions of service for ministers including salaries are taxable adding that only statutory allowances are non-taxable.

“Other conditions of service not mentioned in this circular shall continue to apply. This circular supersedes Cabinet Office Circular number 13 of 2002 with effect from 1st January 2018,” read the circular.

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