Govt restricts external travels for cabinet ministers, other seniors officials

By Chisomo Phiri

In an effort to ease pressures on foreign exchange reserves in the country, President Dr. Lazarus Chakwera’s government has again restricted external travels for Cabinet ministers and other senior government officials effective August 15, 2023.

This is according to a communication dated August 7, 2023 and signed by Secretary to the Treasury MacDonald Mafuta Mwale, addressed to the Secretary to the Office of the President and Cabinet, all controlling officers to the government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) as well as chief executive officers of government enterprises and parastatals.

McDonald Mafuta Mwale

“Malawi is currently facing harsh economic conditions with inflation rising to 27.0 percent for June 2023 and experiencing an acute scarcity of foreign exchange pressure on the exchange rate. One way through which we can control the drain on foreign exchange reserves, foreign travel by Government MDAs as well as State Owned Enterprises(SOEs), must be restricted,” reads the statement in part.

Mafuta Mwale, further, states that external travel beginning at Cabinet level should be restricted to extremely essential trips approved by the President upon the provision of proof of funding and availability of resources from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs.

He says all principal secretaries, and directors from Government MDAs, CEOs, director generals and all senior management of SOEs should seek approval for any external travel from the Secretary to the President and Cabinet on condition that the Secretary to the Treasury provides proof of funding and availability of resources.

“Controlling Officers shall approve external travel only after consulting Treasury on availability of resources, proof of funding and budget allocation,” says Mwale.

He adds:”The number and composition of a delegation travelling outside the country shall be approved by Secretary to the President and Cabinet.

“Where external travel is donor-funded, there shall be no government financial outlay in the form of top-up allowances towards such travel.”

Last fiscal year, government introduced expenditure control measures, and according to Mafuta Mwale, they contributed towards the realisation of some savings on the external travel budget lines hence the need to continue implementing them in the current year.