Bring back vehicle allocation scheme

Editorial

THE Government turned its attention belatedly on its office rental bill for office space.
It discovered that a sum of nearly K300 million is spent on office space alone. That is not an insubstantial bill and the total budgetary outlay for many departments and provinces.
Alarmed the government turned its attention to refurbishing the offices such at the Marea House, now Sir Manasupe Zurenuoc building, and the Central Government offices.
At a combined cost of K250 million, these two iconic buildings were restored.
It may not be a bad idea to likewise take a good look at its vehicle and maintenance bill as well.
It may find to its consternation that the bill is similar to or double that of office rental.
That is because each government entity must have a fleet of vehicles for its operations and most operations require travelling around the country.
Once upon a time the Government fleet was under the strict control of the plant and transport division of the Works Department.
In those days there were allocated a certain vehicle brand for certain classes of workers.
Ministers of State for instance might be given a Toyota Crown as the official vehicle.
Departmental heads, likewise, were allocated a certain brand and departments with duties which required road travel to rural areas were given certain off-road 4-wheel drive vehicles.
This was uniform throughout the country so that a premier of a province could be identified by the official car he or she drove.
The PTD had establishments nationwide and operated alongside the Department of Works.
The light fleet passenger vehicles were hired to all government departments at hire-rates calculated to break-even.
Due to many policy changes of government over the years, Plant and Transport Authority, as it was then known, was abolished and its functions incorporated with Public Works Department, forerunner of the Department of Works.
In the in the latter part of 1977 a branch was created by a trust instrument and the Plant and Transport Branch was born.
This Trust Instrument enabled PTB to operate as an entity on its own in terms of managing its overall financial affairs, manpower resources, training and all associated responsibilities but the instrument provided for it to remain an integral part of the Department of Works.
The PTB had no budgetary support from the National Government.
The entire operations of PTB relied on the revenue generated from its construction machinery’s and the hire of light fleet passenger vehicles to government departments and state owned entities.
In 1989 through a Financial Instruction (182/89), PTD was directed to transfer all vehicles on permanent hire to National Government Departments throughout the country to those respective departments and the departmental heads of those respective departments to take responsibility for the purchase, operation, control, maintenance and eventual replacement of those vehicles.
It may be time now to reintroduce the vehicle allocation scheme again.
Today it seems as if the departmental heads and ministers are competing to get the latest models put out by motor dealers in the luxury vehicle department.
One of these vehicles easily costs the amount that would build five double classrooms or 20 fully manned and maintained aid posts.
Ministers should be allocated one type of luxury vehicle and departmental heads, likewise, ought to be allocated another.
If they wish to choose, let them hunt with their own wallets in hand, not with the tax payer’s.

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