In a bid to discourage misuse of transport facilities by top bureaucrats, the government is considering a ban on the purchase of vehicles by project directors of development schemes, says a senior government official.
The move, in addition to monetising transport facility to officers from grade 20 to 22, could save billions of taxpayers’ rupees in the long run, the official adds.
Finance ministry spokesperson Rana Assad Amin said the ministry was considering a proposal for the cabinet to ban purchase of cars for the development projects. According to a Planning Commission official, many projects are either approved, or their implementation delayed, due to two key benefits – the hefty perks and privileges to project directors and the facility of using cars at taxpayers’ expense.
Amin said a ban on purchasing new cars for ministries and divisions is estimated to save Rs1.6 billion in the next financial year.
He added that monetisation of cars, subject to approval by the federal cabinet along with budget 2011-12, will be effective July 1, 2011.
Lawmakers abusing taxpayer money
The office of the Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP) recently disclosed glaring instances of misuse of transport facility by lawmakers including Chairman Senate and the communication and interior ministers.
The AGP office informed the Public Accounts Committee that former chairman Senate Muhammadmian Soomro and present chairman Farooq H Naek had been using four luxury cars, against an entitlement of one.
The Communication Minister was found guilty of using nine, and the interior Minister of using four luxury vehicles, including three of the Federal Investigation Agency that falls under interior ministry, as disclosed by Director-General Federal Audit Syed Gulzar Hussain.
The Planning Commission recently revealed that the government spends an average of Rs530,000 per month on every grade 22 officer – an amount that does not include cost of privileges like plots, land and membership to elite social clubs.
The commission proposed that monetisation of perks and privileges would significantly reduce the burden.
According to the finance ministry, as many as 1,391 officers are working in federal government in grades 20 to 22.
The government would offer them Rs40,000 to Rs70,000 as transport allowance and withdraw the facility of offering cars.
The bureaucrats would be offered to purchase cars in their use at depreciated prices that are being determined by a cabinet committee.
The officers, Amin said, will have to respond before July 1, adding this is just the beginning of monetisation of all perks and privileges.
Meanwhile, to avoid misuse cars by project directors of development schemes, Amin said the government will ask AGP to conduct a special audit to avoid abuse of this facility.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 8th, 2011.
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