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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 September 2005, 17:29 GMT 18:29 UK
Travel ban for Chad's ministers
Chad's President Idriss Deby attends 17 May 2005 the closing session of an African mini-summit in Tripoli on peace efforts for Sudan's war-torn Darfur region
President Idriss Deby appointed his new finance minister in August
Chad's new finance minister has banned his fellow government ministers from travelling overseas on business trips as part of his cost-cutting measures.

Abbas Mahamat Tolli said the move was "drastic", but would help relieve debt. He is not affected by his ban.

The announcement follows weeks of crippling strikes about the non-payment of salaries in the capital, N'Djamena.

Some senior government members have also been asked to waive their agreed salary increases.

The BBC's Stephanie Hancock in N'Djamena says it is not uncommon for civil servants and other public workers to go for months without being paid their salaries.

Despite a new $3.7bn oil project, Chad remains one of poorest countries in Africa, she says.

'Bread and water diet'

The state-run newspaper Le Progres revealed details of Mr Tolli's cutbacks under the headline, "State is put on bread and water diet".

The travel ban, which is due to last until December, affects all ministers except for Mr Tolli and four other senior ministers.

Other belt-tightening measures include a reduction in expense claims allowed to government officials.

Our correspondent says the latest strike on Monday - by Chad's biggest workers' union UST - brought N'Djamena to its knees, with hospitals, government offices and post offices deserted.

At one stage in August, even the deputies at the National Assembly threatened to strike because they claimed not to have been paid for two months.

Despite the finance minister's cutback, the unions have vowed to continue their fight for an end to the delay of salary payments and are still holding out for their demand of a 5% salary increase.


SEE ALSO:
Country profile: Chad
04 May 05 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Chad
16 Apr 05 |  Country profiles


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