By Robert Tapfumaneyi
GOVERNMENT has directed line ministries to reverse all allowances that were due to be paid to staff involved in anti-Covid-19 operations after it emerged the fund was being abused.
It emerged some senior civil servants were now claiming as much as $400 in terms of daily risk allowances, lunches and airtime during surveillance operations on coronavirus patients and those suspected to be carrying the virus.
This left junior staff members only receiving lunches in the form of pieces of chicken and portions of chips.
In an internal memo sent to all secretaries in line ministries Friday, Treasury expressed, “concern over increase in an unauthorised payment of COVID-19 domestic allowances by line ministries”.
Finance Ministry secretary, George Guvamatanga said all transactions processed already must be reversed.
“Treasury has noted with concern an increase in payment runs request for funding for processing domestic allowances narrated as COVID-19 payments for staff on duty during the lockdown period,” Guvamatanga said in correspondence also copied to the chief secretary to the President and Cabinet, Misheck Sibanda.
“As you are aware, the pronouncement of the lockdown through Statutory Instrument 81 and 82 clearly called for mitigatory measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus and involve limited or no movement across cities and towns, and hence reduce domestic travel expenses.
“Whilst Treasury appreciates the need to incentivise staff who are reporting for duty and risking their health through infection by Coronavirus, payment of such allowances should be guided by the Committee on the Harmonisation of Conditions of Service and approved by Treasury.
“However, line Ministries are now prioritising payment of allowances despite the call by Treasury in its letter dated 20 March 2020, requesting Accounting Officers to identify non-wage savings (operations and capital) from their respective Votes to be ring-fenced towards COVID-19 pandemic interventions.
“In this regard, Treasury is directing all line Ministries to stop processing of domestic allowances and to reverse all transactions processed in the PFM system and redirect such towards COVID-19 interventions.”