‘Babus’ enjoy joyride on taxpayers’ money

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KARACHI: As corruption continues to offset the stable functioning of the country, the misappropriation of state issued vehicles by former officials and their acquaintances leaves the concerned provincial departments in dire straits.

Despite legal rules binding office holders to return state assigned automobiles back to the issuing departments upon successful completion of their term, many officials continue to hold on to these cars. According to data provided by the Excise and Taxation Department, the Sindh government owns roughly 12,000 automobiles in departments including education, health, police, revenue collection, law and the legislative assembly. “Once the elected terms of the ministers, advisors, and other politicians ends, they rarely return the state vehicles to the respective departments, keeping them instead for their personal use,” claimed a source from the provincial excise department.

Such is the case of the Sindh Assembly, which holds the registration of 113 automobiles, mostly Toyota Corolla XLI’s. Of these, 24 were designated for use by several chairmen of the parliamentary committees of various state departments following the parliamentary elections of 2013. While the Sindh Assembly Secretariat had expected to receive the automobiles back in 2018 upon the end of the fiveyear term, neither were the vehicles returned nor were their whereabouts reported.

“More than four years have passed since, and it appears as if the cars vanished into thin air,” said Muhammad Khan Rind, a senior secretary at the Sindh Assembly. Rind added that the provincial administration had alerted the inspector general (IG) of the Sindh Police last year, but no solid evidence about the fate of these cars could be obtained.

While state officials misappropriating government owned automobiles is a strong case of corruption, reports from other departments show that it is only the tip of the iceberg. Multiple sources from the Sindh Archives Department claim that the state cars are also seen in the use of individuals who are acquaintances of ministers, advisors, and special assistants and are not in any way associated with the issuing department. Where some vehicles are missing, others remain parked in the premises of state departments, seemingly without any use.

“Almost 100 automobiles in immaculate condition, including Suzuki Cultus and Mehran, have been parked outside the Law Department sinceforever,” revealed a source from the Law Department, which owns a total of 900 automobiles. Reportedly, the automobiles were presented to the judicial officers of Sindh, who upon their upgradation to bigger cars, abandoned these vehicles. “The Sindh High Court (SHC) has retrieved all of the automobiles that were parked outside the Law Department, and will announce a decision soon,” informed the source from the Law Department.

When quizzed about this misappropriation of public assets, the Local Governments Minister, Syed Nasir Hussain Shah said that he was not aware that the vehicles had not been returned. “We will look into the matter and take action against those found violating public trust,” informed Shah, while talking to Daily City News

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