Some non-governmental organisations are not quite as independent of the government as they seem.
Despite a ban imposed by the government on purchasing vehicles at the expense of the national exchequer, the government has opted to ‘gift’ hearses (vehicles used to transport coffins) and CNG rickshaws to unknown non-governmental organisations in Karachi. It has also given away buses in the constituency of federal minister Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan.
According to budget documents, these expenses were camouflaged under a supplementary budget set aside for the ministry of industries, which has nothing to do with such expenditures.
Non-governmental organisations are so called because they generate funds of their own accord and carry out welfare activities. Providing them with rickshaws purchased by taxpayers’ money defeats the purpose.
The government has spent Rs156.7 million without the approval of the Parliament. The finance ministry got the additional expenditures approved along with the total supplementary budget of Rs426 billion for the outgoing fiscal year ending June 30. This supplementary budget exceeded the original budget by 15.4%.
The records, however, do not contain the names of the NGOs. It is also not clear if these vehicles were purchased through competitive bidding. The government has violated its own ban on the purchase of new vehicles, which it had imposed in the name of austerity measures.
Secretary industries Aziz Ahmed Bilour was not available for comments despite repeated attempts to contact him. Finance ministry’s spokesperson Rana Asad Amin admitted the funds had been allocated on the request of the industries ministry, but said he could comment on the expenditures only after going through relevant dossiers.
According to the documents, the industries ministry purchased four buses worth Rs26.6 million for the “transportation of women” from rural areas to the adjoining areas of constituency NA-111.
Similarly, the purchase of eight ambulances and several CNG rickshaws for “different NGOs in Karachi” cost Rs52 million.
Another sum of Rs48 million was spent on seven coffin-carrier hearses while five coffin-carrier mini-buses were purchased for Rs3.5 million for “different NGOs” in Karachi.
The government also pledged Rs26.6 million for the procurement of four Hino buses for various colleges in Bajaur Agency.
The industries ministry is not the only one violating the ban on the purchase of vehicles. The documents reveal that the housing ministry purchased an 1800-cc car for its federal minister Makhdoom Faisal Saleh Hayat. The vehicle cost Rs2.1 million.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 19th, 2012.
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