President Adam Barrow has banned permanent secretaries and directors of state institutions from flying first class, the country’s Minister of Information, Demba Jawo said.
The decision came as criticism mounts towards travel expenses and per diems paid to officials in a government that say it inherited a bankrupt nation.
“President Barrow and the Cabinet has decided that permanent secretaries and director generals will now have to travel economy to cut costs and save money,” Jawo said.
Some public officials have a reputation for making frequent foreign trips and for flying in first or business class at taxpayers’ expense in a country that is one of the biggest per-capita aid recipients in Africa.
It is Barrow’s first response to calls for restrictions on foreign travel by government officials, who were traveling first class and being paid thousands of dalasis for per diems.
Barrow was sworn-in in January as the country’s third president and faces an enormous challenge to quickly improve the country’s economy, create jobs, and reduce poverty.
International organizations and Gambia’s development partners injected more than $120 million into the country’s economy to give a new life to its economy.
The former President Yahya Jammeh, exiled in Equatorial Guinea is accused of emptying the treasury before fleeing in late January.
A Commission probing financial mismanagement uncovered that monies were withdrawn even on the day Mr. Jammeh left.
The country’s foreign exchange reserves as increased five-folds since Barrow’s coming to power and the new restrictions on government travel expenses would be welcomed but not likely to disengage critics from demanding an end to per diems being paid to civil servants.