Ministry of Finance has engaged consultants to scrutinise the Malawi Government vehicle fleet following preliminary findings that a lot of public expenditure is wasted on procurement and management of vehicles.
The Nation has learnt that the consultants will review the fleet management to come up with a criteria for vehicle ownership scheme for public servants.
In an interview last week, Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development spokesperson Nations Msowoya confirmed that consultants William Chitwere and Wilfred Chinthochi are currently on the ground carrying out the exercise.
He said the consultants would come up with recommendations on fleet management, disposal and ownership consistent with the Malawi economy.
Apart from standardising procurement of vehicles for the Malawi Government in line with the prevailing economic situation, the consultants would also help in fleet management, according to Msowoya.
He said: “The study is taking place now and results are expected before the end of the financial year. Once the study has been completed, government will come up with an implementation plan.”
Based on this study, government would come up with a fleet management policy, he added.
The consultants have been tasked to come up with a framework to help government standardise procurement of vehicles in the wake of the country’s difficult economic situations.
Already, Ministry of Finance has expressed reservations to buy new vehicles for commissioners of the Malawi Electoral Commissioners owing to lack of money.
The scrutiny of government fleet comes as no surprise as various commentators and analysts, among them a 2012/13 assessment of the budget by Economics Association of Malawi (Ecama) found that Malawi Government spent a whopping K17 billion servicing close to 3 000 vehicles, half of which was spent on fuel and maintenance and the other on allowances for drivers.
For years, there have been reports that government has more drivers on its payroll than the actual fleet. However, figures have not been forthcoming since the head count of 2012.
The 2012 Ecama analysis also found that the public service had 706 officers entitled to government vehicles for personal use of which 94 had fuel allocations of 500 litres per month while each of the remaining was entitled to 250 litres per month.
In the Public Service Reforms Programme, government has started acting on reducing the number of chief directors who continue to get benefits of 500 litres of fuel, a vehicle and a salary of over K800 000 per month.
Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe told The Nation recently that he was unable to balance and manage the fiscal position against expenditure; hence, tough decisions would have to be made.
“There is quite a lot of expenditure which is chaff and can be cut off and we can continue working very efficiently without it,” he said, adding that the analysis would identify these areas for possible action.
Treasury is targeting to cut spending by 30 percent in the K1.3 trillion 2016/17 National Budget largely because of a dark fiscal outlook on the back of dwindling domestic revenue, budgetary support freeze and Cashgate-linked fleecing.
Treasury sources confided in The Nation that in working out areas to be affected by the 30 percent expenditure cut, Gondwe could look at whether Capital Hill needed the huge vehicle fleet and their attendant sophistry as well as abolition of certain agencies and positions in government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs). n