Green Party president Peter Sinkamba says banning of first class travel must be extended to all government officials including President Edgar Lungu.

And Sinkamba says if Finance Minister Felix Mutati is serious about cost-saving, he should abolish personal-to-holder car schemes in all government and quasi-government institutions.

Recently, Mutati announced he had banned first-class flying for CEOs of parastatals and quasi government institutions in order to save costs.

But in a statement issued by the Green Party Media Team yesterday, Sinkamba stated that the ban should be extended to all government officials including the President and Vice President.

He said such a ban should not be by word of mouth but must be written policy and enacted as law so that it was not easily changed when there was a regime change.

“Take for instance during the reign of the late Levy Mwanawasa and Michael Sata, they banned flying first-class besides the President and Vice President. However, because these measures were by way of word of mouth and not written policy and enacted as law, as soon as there was regime change, the austerity measures thrown to the wind. There was policy change as soon as the leaders were buried. So, based on the lesson learnt from the past, we need to do things differently by putting measures to paper through written policy and enacted as law,” Sinkamba said.

“If you look at the 2018 budget expenditure for General Public Service, Mutati increased it from 27.9 per cent of the budget to 35.6 per cent. This is almost a 10 per cent increase. The trouble is that the bulk of it is going towards buying of new cars, fuel and maintenance expenses as well as first-class and business class flying. This sort of waste of public resources should really come to an end. We need to dedicate more of our meager resources towards deserving areas, especially social protection, housing for the poor, health and education.”

And observed that Mutati’s cost saving measure was meaningless as government spent more money on personal to holder car schemes.

“The decision by Minister of Finance Felix Mutati to ban chief executives of loss-making State owned Enterprises (SoEs) from flying first-class is no saving at all. How many such executives really often fly overseas? Even when they fly locally, how many of them do actually first-class? What first-class is there to fly in Zambia between Lusaka and Livingstone or indeed between Lusaka and Ndola? Isn’t it Ministers and their Permanent Secretaries who day-in-day out fly abroad in first-class and business-class?” asked Sinkamba.

“If Mutati is serious about cost-saving, he should first of all abolish personal-to-holder car schemes in government and quasi-government institutions. This is where there is really serious waste of public resources. A loan scheme which is currently obtaining at Parliament should be uniform across the public service. It should be integrated too. If one gets a loan through Parliament, that person should not be eligible to get a similar loan through the Executive or indeed the Judiciary branch of government. There should be a one-person-one car loan policy across the continuum of Government. And those cars gotten should be used for official business too, whereby government’s role should be to provide a modest allowance for fuel and car maintenance only.”