The accountability body of Parliament on Wednesday constituted a committee in typical bureaucratic form to review the policy regarding monetisation of benefits given to officials for maintaining government cars.
The government had envisaged a policy to give Rs65,000 to Rs95,000 per month in cash to bureaucrats of grade 20 to 22 to own and maintain their transport instead of having sway over the entire fleets of vehicles in their departments.
The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) decided to review the policy after finding that the top officials were still utilising departmental vehicles, fuel and drivers for personal use and the expenses on the official cars have increased contrary to the claim of making savings. PAC, headed by Nadeem Afzal Chan of PPP, asked the committee to give recommendations in two weeks whether to continue with the policy or scrap it.
The secretaries’ committee will be headed by secretary finance and consist of secretaries of cabinet and establishment divisions.
The committee will give comparison of expenses incurred during first five months of implementation of policy and during comparative period of the previous year.
“Despite millions of rupees worth of vehicles given to the bureaucracy, it is not willing to fully implement the policy,” said the visibly annoyed chairman PAC.
The PAC found serious flaws in the monitoring system of the policy. Secretary Finance Wajid Rana said that in the last five months, no action has been taken against any bureaucrat for the misuse of official vehicles.
Afzal Sindhu, a PAC member asked whether bureaucrats have become angels in six months that they did not misuse cars.
Nargis Sethi Secretary Cabinet Division admitted that irregularities have
been taking place but the monetisation of transport was a good policy and should be continued.
Both the cabinet and the finance ministries claimed that no vehicle was purchased after the monetisation policy was implemented. However, the Controller General of Pakistan Accounts disclosed that during first four months of implementation of the policy, Rs113.7 million were spent on purchase of new vehicles while the amount was a whopping Rs96 million from July through December- six months prior to implementation of the policy.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 21st, 2012.
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