By KALOBWE BWALYA
GOVERNMENT has abolished the newly introduced vehicle replacement allowance awarded to Cabinet ministers and other officials and reverted the officers to their previous conditions of service following a presidential directive.
According to a press statement issued by Secretary to the Cabinet, Roland Msiska, the affected officers would revert to their old conditions of service which were abolished early this year. The old conditions of service had included personal to holder vehicles.
When contacted for a comment, Presidential spokesperson Amos Chanda reluctantly told the Daily Nation that the President had ordered the reversal of the new allowance through a memo to Secretary to the Cabinet dated November 13, 2018.
The scrapped monthly allowance of K32, 715.20 was introduced in January this year following the abolishing of personal to holder vehicles for ministers and government officials.
For salaries, Members of Parliament, ministers and all constitutional officer holders had their perks adjusted in January 2018 as per government gazette which can be purchased from Government Printers. Unlike ministers, MPs started receiving their adjusted salaries in Janurayr 2018.
Dr Msiska notes that , “Considering the austerity measures currently in place, the motor vehicle replacement allowance has been withdrawn effective January 1, 2019.”
The eligible officers were on November 13 and 14 advised of the decision to revert to their previous conditions of service.
“The withdrawal was done by letters dated 13th and 14th November, 2018,” reads the statement in part.
Dr Msiska has also revealed that Government had rejected requests to extend the withdrawn allowance to allowance to MPs because of the austerity measures in place.
“Government is unable to extend the motor vehicle replacement allowance to the members of Parliament and continue to implement the same for ministers as it is not fiscally possible,” Dr Msiska said.
Apart from ministers, presiding officers two deputy speakers, Catherine Namugala and Mwimba Malama and leader of the opposition, Jack Mwiimbu (UPND) were also entitled to both personal-to-holder and utility vehicles and furnished houses.
However, following the introduction of austerity measures, furniture allowances and personal to holder facilities were removed and instead an allowances of K32,000 was introduced for ministers and presiding officers and the leader of opposition in Parliament.
When back benchers, who have never enjoyed these conditions before wanted the same K32,000 to be extended to them, calculations showed that the austerity measures would not work if this facility was extended and therefore Cabinet Office explained the implications to the President.
On 13 November 2018, the President wrote to Secretary to the Cabinet directing him to reverse the new arrangement in the light of protests from back benchers and in the light of the facility being untenable in terms of cost if all MPs demanded ministerial perks.
Reverting to the old arrangement now means that personal to holder cars will be back to ministers and presiding officers and leader of opposition.