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Gvt Blocks Xmas Hampers, Expensive Travels

The Ministry of Finance and Economic Development has mandated that any official travel must be cost-effective, blocking the practice of government headquarters staff purchasing hampers and gift cards for themselves.

This comes after the ministry insisted that contractors be thoroughly investigated to prevent overcharging, and now, under the same standards, the civil service is under scrutiny for its discretionary spending.

At a post-Budget seminar on Monday in Harare, Mr. George Guvamatanga, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, stated that Treasury had expanded the policy to include public officials.

“There was a practice that those of us working at (ministry) headquarters would give ourselves Christmas hampers and vouchers,” he said.

“As part of the public expenditure reforms, we have this year said no to hampers and vouchers. These are far reaching reforms we have adopted to ensure that resources are allocated where they are needed without questions.

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“We are also tightening our expenditure on Government travel, especially on the criteria where people can travel.”

Speaking to the Herald, Mr Guvamatanga cited an example of officials from an agency under his ministry who wanted to travel to Belgium for seven days for a two-hour meeting that could be attended virtually.

“They wanted to travel business class on Emirates and go to Belgium three days before the meeting and return three days after. They wanted to collect allowances for the hotel costs and others for attending the meeting.

“So you will realise that this is not only about Government contractors and suppliers but is a cross-cutting measure,” he said.

However, Mr Guvamatanga said Government would honour its obligations to contractors in full if the goods and services were correctly priced and would pay within 30 days.

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