The government will save up to Shs200 billion following a decision to cut foreign travel budget by 100%.
In a circular from the Ministry of Finance Permanent Secretary Keith Muhakanizi, foreign travel has been halted for this financial year while internal travels have been cut by 50 percent.
“COVID-19 has shown us that we can operate normally without traveling abroad. Travels abroad should be a reserve of highly inevitable circumstances of public interest,” the circular reads in part.
The circular also insists that travels internally should be minimized and operations by government institutions up-country be handled by their representatives locally situated in areas of interest.
“Upcountry projects that necessitate travels of headquarter staff should be managed by respective local government officials in districts of project operation to cut the unnecessary costs involved in moving to headquarter staff,” the circular continues.
The government has furthermore projected to reduce expenses on fuel, cutting the budget by 50% due to the reduction of inland travel.
The move could see the government save over Shs200 billion on foreign travels alone.
A report released in 2017, indicated that President Museveni and State House are the biggest spenders on foreign travels, followed closely by Parliament.
While Museveni’s travels abroad are sometimes called for, Parliament insists their members must benchmark with other members of parliament around the world.
State House spends over Shs56 billion on travel on average, while parliament spends over Shs21billion on average.
This is according to an ISO report released in the financial year 2016/17.
The same report indicated that the army spent Shs33billion on fueling cars and equipment.
Members of Parliament have been spending over Shs21billion on traveling abroad for several reasons including a huge chunk of money to support their travel and stay in the USA to attend the UNAA Convention, a Uganda diaspora event for three days.
In 2016 alone, parliament bought tickets and paid per diem to 76 legislators who went to attend the UNAA convention in Boston, USA.
This number included two speakers, Kadaga and Oulanya who were earning at least Shs2 million per day in per diem.
The other foreign travel expenses for government include the Ministry of Health that has been taking away around Shs 20 billion and the Ministry of Education Shs16 billion.
Ministries; Water, Finance, Agriculture, OPM, and Judiciary are also some of the big spenders, taking Shs13b, Shs11b, Shs11b, and Shs10billion respectively.
Among other institutions, the Uganda National Examinations Board (UNEB) which has been spending shs14 billion on travel abroad will now not have any travels.
According to the same report, the government in 2016 alone spent shs12billion on officials from the National Agricultural Research Organization to travel abroad.
Other agencies that have been spending highly on travel include the Uganda National Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) and Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) spending Shs16billion between them.
In 2018, President Museveni issued a directive to the Prime Minister, Dr.Ruhakana Rugunda putting in place tough travel restrictions against government officials intending to travel abroad.