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Fly Economy! Manuel Orders
04/04/2009 - Prega Govender - The Times

SOUTH AFRICA — The government has banned most senior bureaucrats from flying business class or staying at five-star hotels in a bid to curb wastage and free up millions of rands for job creation and social programmes.

The directive to slash operational costs came from the Treasury just weeks after Trevor Manuel, the minister of finance, expressed concern over "insufficient control" of budgets across departments regarding foreign travel, advertising, public relations and consulting services.

Some of the drastic cost-cutting measures include departments:

- Reducing the number of officials travelling abroad and cutting down on advertising.
- Using video-conferencing for meetings and scheduling these outside of meal times to cut out the cost of catering.
- Reducing the number of travel agents used.
- Hiring less expensive cars when travelling.

In addition, some departments would be freezing vacant posts and cutting back on overtime hours to save costs.
In the 2007/8 financial year, the Department of Education spent R73.2-million on hotel accommodation, restaurants and travel and a further R7.9-million on consultants.

The Department of Justice spent more than R8-million on catering and entertainment alone, while Home Affairs spent
almost R6-million.

The Department of Social Development has informed staff that it will not be approving any overseas conference trips this year and that only two staff members would be allowed to attend provincial meetings.

Home Affairs´ director-general, Mavuso Msimang, said domestic and foreign flights by officials cost the department
"upwards of R50-million" a year.

Treasury spokesman Lindani Mbunyuza said the treasury had slashed R19-billion off government departments´ budgets for this financial year.

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