Nkhotakota South East member of Parliament (MP) Everson Makowa Mwale (Malawi Congress Partry-MCP) plans to stir the hornet’s nest when he tables a private member’s motion, possibly this Thursday, to remove the privilege of government officials flying business class.
The MP argues that the ailing economy could save up to K5 billion (about $7.3million) in public funds if government officials travelled in economy class which is cheaper.
Flying business class comes with benefits such as priority boarding, access to private departure lounges at airports worldwide, spacious leg room, other amenities and higher quality food and beverages.
For example, a Malawian Airlines flight to Johannesburg, South Africa booked today to fly economy would cost a government official $319 (about K226 490) but a business class ticket would cost $1 381 (about K987 415).
In a brief motion appearing on Monday’s Order Paper, Makowa Mwale indicates that money saved from such a move could be used for pro-poor and pro-growth expenditure.
“That considering the fragile nature of our economy and the prevailing sensitivity of foreign and local travel in our public service… the House hereby resolves that all air travel by civil servants using public funds should forthwith be restricted to economy class. In the political domain, ordinary Members of Parliament are already living by example on this necessity,” the motion reads in part.
Speaking in an interview yesterday, the MP said if passed, the motion would save the country billions of kwacha.
“I considered that maybe there should be some sections exempted from this but they are a large number. It is an unnecessary expenditure,” he said.
Apart from principal secretaries and chief directors, other government officials who travel business class include presidential advisers who at last count were close to 20.
Ironically, while envoys of donors such as the United States of America (USA) and the European Union (EU) travel economy class, government officials in Malawi have been seen travelling business class even on publicly funded foreign and local trips. n