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Smart cards for travelling public officials to cut costs - VIDEO

Public servants will be issued with smart cards loaded with e-cash to spend while traveling abroad in a move aimed at reducing ballooning expenditure on foreign and domestic trips.

The new austerity measure proposed Thursday also affects public servants travelling within the country.

The directive comes after Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua barred principal secretaries and chief executives of State corporations from travelling abroad without seeking approval from relevant Cabinet secretaries or from his office.

“The card will be pre-loaded with subsistence allowance to be expended by officers travelling on official duty on eligible expenditures only,” said Treasury CS Rotich Thursday.

It is not clear, however, how the directive will save on spending, since travel allowances for public officers are determined based on their job grades. Mr Rotich indicated that the government is also considering the use of fuel cards across its departments to improve efficiency and cut costs. The Treasury has previously made attempts to rein in spending on foreign travel, including through a directive that Mr Rotich issued to all accounting officers on air travel.

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The December 2013 circular issued by Mr Rotich barred most government officers from travelling on business class while on official trips locally to cut spending on air transport.

Business class travel was reserved for principal secretaries, members of the Cabinet and parastatal heads.

“All air travel by public officers should also be by the national carrier, Kenya Airways, except where the airline does not fly the route or has no partnership with any other airline on that route,” said Mr Rotich then.

Delegations led by Cabinet secretaries were restricted to five officials while those led by principal secretaries, chief executives, directors and commissioners of boards and commissions were restricted to three.

Any exceptions to the size of the delegation is subject to approval by the chief of staff and head of public service.

Mr Rotich also stopped ministries from holding meetings in private hotels to reduce the government’s hospitality budget, instructing that they be held in government institutions with catering facilities.

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