MAPUTO– The Mozambican government will no longer rent houses for its high-ranking officials, but will instead provide them a rent allowance, which may not exceed 30 percent of their basic wages.

The government decree, dated Dec 27, 2017, but only published this week in the official gazette, the Boletim da Republica, i part of the package of measures to reduce the privileges of senior officials promised by Finance Minister Adriano Maleiane in early December. Maleiane estimated that these measures will result in savings of about 7.2 billion meticais (about 123 million US dollars) in 2018.

The government does not have enough houses of its own to accommodate senior officials and has been accomodating them in hotels, or private, rented accommodation at enormous cost. The new decree will make it impossible for these officials to go on living indefinitely in five-star hotels.

However, the government recognizes that it cannot throw the officials out of their current accommodation immediately and the decree says the State will guarantee payment of the current rent for the maximum period of a year (i.e. for 2018), after which the officials will receive the rent allowance. The allowance will end immediately the official leaves office.

The Ministers of Economy and Finance and of Public Works and Housing must set a ceiling on the rent to be paid in 2018 per province, which must not exceed 120,000 meticais (about 2,044 US dollars) a month.

The State may rent buildings for purposes other than the housing of its officials, but the decree sets a limit of 1,800 meticais per square metre.

High ranking officials are entitled to a protocol vehicle, but only for official business. These vehicles must be driven by an official chauffeur, and may not be sold. Officials are still entitled to a fuel allowance for their personal vehicles, but this may not be more than 5,000 meticais a month. At current fuel prices, that is enough to buy 82 litres of petrol, or 89 litres of diesel. The Finance Minister can update this allowance, in the event of future changes in fuel prices.

The decree fixes the communications allowance for senior officials at a maximum of 10,000 meticais a month. This is to cover phone calls and Internet use.

The decree creates an installation allowance, which replaces the obligation of the State to provide a vehicle for the official concerned to buy. This allowance, paid in a lump sum when the official takes up his or her duties, ranges from 200,000 to 600,000 meticais, depending on seniority. The money may be spent on purchasing a vehicle, or for any other purpose.

The decree applies to ministers, deputy ministers, provincial governors, vice-chancellors of public universities, top-ranking defence and security officials, mayors, chairpersons of municipal assemblies, senior managers of state and public companies, heads of public institutes and funds, ambassadors, judges, and a limited list of other senior officials.

It does not apply to the President of the Republic, the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of Parliament, the Prime Minister, the President and Deputy President of the Supreme Court, the President of the Administrative Tribunal, the Chairperson of the Constitutional Council, the Attorney-General and the Deputy Attorney-General.