ISLAMABAD: The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has voiced concerns over the government’s car monetisation policy, under which Rs188.2 million was paid to top bureaucrats in just six months.
Under the policy implemented in January this year, Grade 20, 21 and 22 bureaucrats were allowed to purchase official vehicles allotted to them at a much lower price than their market value and were to get a monthly car monetisation allowance under the head of fuel and maintenance costs.
According to a briefing of the finance ministry to the PAC on Tuesday, the government spent Rs899 million under the heads of transport, fuel and repairs between January and June, this year. This is said to be Rs165 million less than what the government spent in the earlier comparative period, January-June, 2011.
However, the Rs188.2 million given to top bureaucrats has raised questions over the rationale for giving away official vehicles at throwaway prices.
The PAC had called for the briefing to determine if the cash-for-cars policy was preventing the earlier reported misuse of official vehicles as claimed by the finance ministry. The committee maintained that the monetisation policy was ‘tailor-made’ and ‘flawed’.
The finance ministry admitted the malpractice had not been curbed with the joint secretary (expenditures) stating that most federal secretaries shied away from submitting compulsory certificates attesting that no vehicle was being misused in their departments.
Upon this, the PAC directed the establishment division to proceed against all those federal secretaries who have failed to stop the misuse of vehicles in their respective departments. It also constituted a subcommittee to review the policy and give recommendations, while the audit department has been asked to carry out a special audit of the policy.
PAC Chairman Nadeem Afzal Chan said the committee was against the monetisation policy. He maintained bureaucrats were given cars along with hefty allowances just to commute from their residence to the office and the policy provided a chance for civil servants to purchase expensive vehicles at cheap rates.
Finance Secretary Abdul Wajid Rana, however, defended the policy saying six months was too short a period to review the effectiveness of any policy. “The reversal of policy will require purchasing new vehicles for those officers who were not allotted cars as they were not serving in the federal government at the time.”
Published in The Express Tribune, August 8th, 2012.