In a bid to cut down on the huge travel bills, government has ordered that henceforth, public officials must seek clearance before they travel abroad from an unnamed relevant authority.
Also restricted is the purchase of foreign exchange for public officials traveling abroad. In a letter dated January 16, and addressed to all ministers and ministers of state, Prime Minister Ruhakana Ruganda says President Museveni has “noted with great concern that a lot of government expenditure is incurred on travel abroad”.
In the letter, Rugunda says clearance for travel will only be limited to “essential travels” and officials are “encouraged as much as possible to use our embassies and missions abroad to represent the interests of the country in various conferences and meetings where Uganda is invited."
Rugunda further demands that all ministries and agencies file quarterly returns of the cleared trips made abroad by ministry/agency staff and the amount of foreign exchange spent on the trips.
Rugunda says the order takes immediate effect and the money saved in travels be diverted to other national programs. Ironically, the travel budget for public officials has been steadily going up, with the government budgeting Shs 421 billion for FY 2017/18 up from Shs 353 billion spent in FY 2016/17. In FY 2007/08, government spent Shs 15 billion on foreign travels.
In FY 2009/10 the figure rose to Shs 20 billion. Rugunda issued a similar order last year in June when he noted that some officials travel abroad without clearance from the Prime Minister’s office.
A cabinet sitting on August 25, 2017 resolved that all ministers, ministers of state, head of public service and his deputy, permanent secretaries, chief administrative officers and specified officers had to be cleared by the prime minister.
The respective ministers were charged with clearing public officials below the position of permanent secretaries and chief administrative officers.