The parliament’s accountability body reprimanded bureaucrats for flouting the recently-implemented cash-for-cars policy and sought a report from the finance ministry on its financial impact.
The observation came following numerous media reports highlighting continuous misuse of cars by top bureaucrats.
Under the policy, top civil servants have been given a fixed monthly payment for car-related facilities, including fuel, maintenance and drivers.
“Officials, especially federal secretaries, have blatantly flouted the monetisation policy as they are not only availing Rs97,000 monthly car allowance but also illegally holding cars,” Chairman Public Accounts Committee Nadeem Afzal Chan said on Wednesday.
Chan, who replaced Opposition Leader Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, was chairing the first meeting of the PAC as its head. Khan resigned six months ago due to his differences on the appointment of Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP).
Chan said he would perform his job above party lines and audit all departments that withdraw money from the exchequer.
“Whether it is the military, the judiciary or the presidency, the PAC will audit their accounts,” Chan said. The Supreme Court is the only institution that has not appeared before the PAC.
The compulsory monetisation of transport facility policy, for civil servants from grade 20 to 22, was implemented from January 1, 2012.
Under the policy a grade 22 officer is receiving Rs97,000, a grade 21 officer Rs77,000, and a grade 20 officer Rs68,000 per month for car-related services.
The government also gave them the option to purchase vehicles under their use at depreciated prices, on hopes that this would stop the misuse of vehicles which is costing a minimum of Rs5 billion annually to the exchequer according to a recent report by the AGP.
The government had also banned use of departmental or project vehicles.
The PAC directed the finance ministry to submit a reply on financial impact of the monetisation policy on Thursday (today), and sought a report from all federal secretaries certifying that no official was misusing the vehicles. The certificates given by the secretaries would be verified by AGP.
The issue gained prominence again when the son of chairman Capital Development Authority was video-taped driving an expensive official car illegally. Chan said that he has seen many federal secretaries still using official cars against rules.
The AGP, Akhtar Buland Rana, defended the policy and said the real issue is “abuse of authority.”
The PAC directed Secretary Ministry of Information Technology Farooq Awan to hold an inquiry to fix responsibility for illegal construction of a guest house by the National Telecommunication Corporation. The guest house constructed in Dera Gazi Khan cost Rs4.2 million.
Awan also informed the committee that grey trafficking of calls was causing up to $500 million in annual loss to the exchequer and the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority was responsible for that.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 10th, 2012.
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