Govt in belt-tightening mode

Government has begun implementing a raft of austerity measures, with senior civil servants now entitled to one vehicle each.

In the 2018 National Budget, Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa said too many State employees are eligible for vehicles every five years as a condition of service.

As at December 7 last year, the total outstanding request for condition of service vehicles stood at $140 million.

The new policy, communicated through Circular Number 4 of 2018, says permanent secretaries, commissioners of constitutional bodies, and others of equivalent grades, would now be entitled to one vehicle each.

Principal directors and deputy directors will be put on the vehicle loan scheme, which is administered through the Transport Purchase Fund.

A ceiling has been set on loans, with principal directors getting $40 000, directors $30 000 and deputy directors $20 000.

Secretary for Finance Mr Willard Manungo said the initiative was part of measures to “curtail wasteful expenditure as enunciated in the 2018 National Budget”.

“The existing Transport Purchase Fund, managed through CMED, has been expanded to include additional categories of beneficiaries under the vehicle loan scheme. The scheme covers beneficiaries in the civil service, independent commissions, Judicial Services Commission, health sector and Government agencies solely dependent on tax and non-tax fiscal income for support,” said Mr Manungo in the recent circular.

“To enable the Transport Purchase Fund meet the new demand, Treasury has capacitated the Fund to the tune of $15 million,” he said.

Beneficiaries of the vehicle loan scheme will buy cars of their own choice, including pre-owned cars that will have to be assessed by the CMED.

Government will fund the VAT and duty cost of the vehicle within the prescribed loan limit for each category.

The State will also provide a fuel allowance, which will be limited to 400 litres for principal directors and 200 litres for directors monthly.

Last year, the Office of the President and Cabinet and Treasury reviewed and standardised fuel benefit levels after the Auditor-General’s Office raised the flag on inconsistencies in the setting of fuel allocation levels in ministries.

While Government formerly had to licence, insure and service the vehicles, under the new policy beneficiaries will be “responsible for purchasing a comprehensive insurance cover for the duration of the loan, including meeting the running costs of the vehicle”.

Interest on loans from the Transport Purchase Fund has been slashed to five percent from 15 percent across the board.

As part of its comprehensive expenditure management strategy, Government plans to progressively reduce its share of employment costs in the budget to 70 percent this year, 65 percent in 2019 and below 60 percent of revenue by 2020.

The new administration is implementing a phased comprehensive expenditure management strategy through freezing recruitment of additional staff except for critical positions.

In addition to a voluntary retirement scheme that is backed by supportive allocation for post-service economic ventures, Government — through various service commissions — is also retiring civil servants above the age of 65.

Further, the rationalisation of youths officers and ward development co-ordinators is expected to result in cost savings of $1,6 million per month.

Government has also cut the size of delegations to foreign assignments, while diplomatic missions’ staff and operations are being rationalised to unlock economic value for Zimbabwe.

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