No logbooks of thousands of official cars in Sindh helping criminals

ISLAMABAD: Sindh government does not maintain logbooks of official vehicles in the field throughout the province, discloses a deputy commissioner in his official response, a revelation that coincides with a recent study showing 70 percent vehicles being used by family and friends of officers.
A study had found as many as 2,000 vehicles of Sindh government were not registered with Excise and Taxation Department that further brings to spotlight the issue of their misuse by criminal elements other than massive tax evasion on the part of provincial government.
As far as the issue of non-maintenance of the logbooks is concerned, Deputy Commissioner Karachi (East) while responding to a Right To Information (RTI) request admitted that his office doesn’t keep any record of vehicles, a practice discontinued for last 13 years when provincial government stopped printing the logbooks for maintaining the transportation details and fuel consumed during official movement.
An RTI request was filed by Islamabad-based Center for Policy and Development Initiatives (CPDI) seeking information about the logbooks of DC Karachi (East) office. As DC office refused to answer the query in the beginning, CPDI moved the Sindh Ombudsman, an appellant body in case of refusal of information covered under Sindh’s Freedom of Information law.
Upon Ombudsman’s intervention, DC office gave a reply offering a rare insight into the malpractices of unaccounted for government departments putting to misuse public money without fear of being questioned.
Responding to the Ombudsman’s order, DC Karachi (East) Sami Siddiqui submitted: “Since about last 12/13 years, the practice of maintenance of Log Book in respect of any government vehicle has been discontinued on the one hand and the Government of Sindh is not providing printed Log Books on the other hand. Hence this office is unable to provide certified copies of the Log Books in the present circumstances.”
As The News contacted officials in the DC office for further verification, they confirmed the reply was already submitted. They said not only in their office, the same culture prevails in all the field offices throughout the province.
“Record may be maintained of the vehicles used in Sindh Secretariat but not those in the field offices,” one official said.When Secretary General Administration (Sindh) Mudassar Iqbal was approached for his comments, he feigned ignorance of the practice in the field offices, however, stating that logbooks are maintained at Sindh Secretariat.
Compared to the Secretariat, there are far more vehicles in the field offices. During the auditing process, logbooks are checked to keep track of the vehicles use and the fuel consumed, one wonders how this is done in the absence of proper record. Vehicles are considered the most precious public property after the government building and they go unaccounted for in Sindh.
As far as the non-registered vehicles are concerned, Sindh government purchased 16,000 vehicles from taxpayers’ money for official use of its functionaries and 2,000 of them are not registered with the excise and taxation department thus depriving the department of registration fee and essentially fall in the category of illegal vehicles, a recent study found.
The government has avoided transparency by failing to place the registration details of government vehicles on the excise and taxation department website like it has done for the vehicles of ordinary citizens.
Only about half of the government vehicles use the officially supplied number plates while others invent their own concoctions, it was reported quoting a study conducted.Seventy per cent of the vehicles checked were being used by friends and family and not for official use. There are scores of people who have retired or are no longer in this world who still have government vehicles in their names, noted the study.
The News

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