The federal government has decided to initiate disciplinary proceedings against bureaucrats who are misusing official cars despite availing the compulsory monetisation policy – which entitles them to a handsome monthly car allowance – and purchasing official cars at throwaway prices.
The latest directions were issued by the cabinet division after it observed that despite the policy’s implementation, officers are still misusing official cars meant for operational duty. In some cases, according to the letter issued by Cabinet Secretary Nargis Sethi, the vehicles of various projects or sub-ordinate offices and organisations are also being misused by the ministries and divisions.
The letter does not mention the biggest violators, however, who are none other than the federal secretaries themselves.
According to the letter, all the officers had given the undertaking that they would not violate the compulsory monetisation policy, implemented from January this year. However, these officers have been using the cars in violation of the undertaking making them perfect cases for initiation of disciplinary action, it added.
The government is giving Rs98,000 to a grade 22 officer as car allowance, Rs78,000 to grade 21 officer and Rs68,000 to grade 20 officer instead of providing them official vehicles. But many officers are availing both the allowances as well as free rides on cars purchased and run using taxpayers’ money. The Public Accounts Committee has already taken notice of the misuse of official cars.
Bureaucrats have also been provided the option of purchasing official vehicles at throwaway prices.
However, the latest directions leave a major loophole since they do not specify who will take action against the secretaries if they violate the rules. Currently, almost all federal secretaries have been violating the policy. Even those who were at the forefront of implementing the monetisation policy have parked their cars at home and continuously use the official vehicles.
The cabinet division said the ministries and divisions should also surrender their surplus vehicles, as a report has to be furnished to Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani.
The government is also considering eliminating the pool of vehicles maintained by every ministry and division to stop the misuse of vehicles at taxpayers’ expense.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 31st, 2012.