President Yoweri Museveni has issued a directive to the Prime Minister, Dr.Ruhakana Rugunda putting in place tough travel restrictions against government officials intending to travel abroad.
In a communique dated January 18,2018 to all cabinet Ministers and their juniors, Rugunda as he leader of government business quotes president Museveni as having got concerned over the large sums of money government loses in travels by its officials abroad.
“H.E the president has noted with concern that a lot of government expenditure is incurred on travel abroad by public officers and directed that this should stop,”Rugunda says in a communique to ministers titled ‘restriction on clearance of public officers to travel abroad and authority to purchase foreign exchange.
“This is therefore to communicate to you the directive of the president to further guide on how the clearance for travel abroad will be handled henceforth.”
According to Rugunda, clearance for travel abroad and authority to purchase foreign currency will be restricted to only essential travels and government officials have been encouraged to use the country’s embassies and missions abroad to represent interests of the country in various conferences and meetings.
“All ministers and agencies should file quarterly returns to my office of the cleared trips made abroad by the staff and the amount of foreign exchange spent on these travels for monitoring purposes.”
The communique by the Prime Minister to all ministers emphasises that these measures are meant to ensure that excessive expenditure on foreign trips is reduced and funds diverted to other programs.
“I would like to reiterate that no government official should travel abroad on official duty without clearance from the respective authority and these directive takes immediate effect,”Rugunda says.
When contacted, Julius Mucunguzi the Communications Advisor to the Prime Minister confirmed the communication but said it had been agreed upon in a cabinet meeting.
“It was a cabinet decision made last year,”Mucunguzi told the Nile Post in a phone interview.
Last year, government banned travels for treatment abroad for its officials including ministers, Members of Parliament and other senior officials starting this year.
Addressing journalists, the state minister for Health in charge of special duties Sarah Opendi said that with the commissioning later this year of Mulago National Referral Hospital, the medical board will no longer refer government officials abroad for treatment because the facilities will be available locally.
“We spend close to Shs30 billion annually on sending ministers, Members of Parliament and senior government officials for treatment abroad. This does not include those who travel for treatment privately,” Opendi said.
A report by the Internal Security Organization (ISO) released last year indicated that government spent 352 billion shillings for both trips within and those outside the country in the financial year 2016/17.