Govt to buy vehicles for DC, UNOs ahead of parliamentary polls
The public administration ministry has sent a proposal to buy 261 vehicles for deputy commissioners and upazila nirbahi officers. The election commission secretariat also wants to buy vehicles
The public administration ministry wants to provide new vehicles to deputy commissioners (DCs) and Upazila Nirbahi Officers (UNOs) so that they can conduct the upcoming 12th parliamentary election. The ministry has already sent a proposal to the finance ministry in this regard.
The election commission (EC) secretariat and land record and survey department also want to buy new vehicles. Proposals have been sent to the finance ministry on behalf of three ministries and organisations regarding the purchase of 271 vehicles. The ministry is currently assessing the proposals.
Meanwhile, the finance ministry has created a scope of buying pricey vehicles for the government officials. On 1 August, the ministry issued a new directive fixing the new price limit of the vehicles including registration and duty. As per the directive, the new price limit is Tk 14.5 million which was Tk 9.4 million before.
Deputy commissioners work as returning officers and UNOs as assistant returning officers during the parliamentary election. New vehicles have been sought as their activities will increase during the time of election
Transport commissioner at the Department of Government Transport, Abul Hasanat Humayun Kabir, told Prothom Alo that deputy commissioners work as returning officers and UNOs as assistant returning officers during the parliamentary election. New vehicles have been sought as their activities will increase during the time of election.
261 vehicles for DCs, UNOs
The public administration ministry sent a proposal to the finance ministry to procure 261 brand news sports utility vehicles (SUVs) for deputy commissioners (DCs) and upazila nirbahi officers (UNOs).
The proposed model was Mitsubishi Pajero Sport QX. The estimated price of a SUV has been set at Tk 14.5 million with the total spending standing at 3.80 billion. The public administration ministry said 61 SUVs are necessary for DCs and 200 SUVs for UNOs.
Citing the rationality for procuring vehicles, the public administration said new vehicles are necessary to complete national election fairly, conduct mobile courts, maintain law and orders and ensure undisrupted transportation services at grassroots. Besides, it is urgent to replace the vehicles that are older than 13 years or more with new ones.
Sources at the public administration ministry said there is an allocation of Tk 600 million for procurement of vehicles in the budget for the 2023-24 fiscal, but the ministry need Tk 3.80 billion, which is why an additional Tk 3.20 billion has been sought from the finance ministry.
At the beginning, the demand of new vehicles for DCs and UNOs was even more. According to the letter, at first the public administration ministry altogether sought Tk 6.12 billion to procure 461 vehicles altogether – 96 vehicles for the DC offices and 365 for UNOs. But, the finance ministry said it is not possible to allocate such a huge amount of money because of economic crisis in the country. So, the proposal was revised to reduce the number of vehicles.
Former president of old vehicle importers’ body Bangladesh Reconditioned Vehicles Importers and Dealers Association (BARVIDA) Abdul Haque Told Prothom vehicles that were provided to DCs and UNOs can be driven up to 25 years if those are maintained properly. It is difficult time now, so, more austerity should be followed, he added.
Saying that government officials uses less expensive vehicles in India, Abdul Haque added, government officials use million-taka vehicles in Bangladesh and that is surely a waste.
EC wants to procure vehicles
EC secretariat has sent a proposal to the finance ministry on 25 July to procure vehicles for its officials in Dhaka, Chattogram and Tangail ahead of the national election. The letter stated that the vehicles used by regional election officials and senior district election officials in the field level are almost unusable.
The EC proposed procuring new vehicles for the offices where the cars are more than 10 years old. The letter did not mention anything on the price of the cars.
EC secretariat’s additional secretary Ashok Kumar Debnath told Prothom Alo that new vehicles would be procured before the election if the finance ministry approves the proposal.
Meanwhile, Land Record and Survey Department has sent a letter to the finance ministry seeking permission to buy seven vehicles for conducting surveys effectively. The DLRS authorities said it will need Tk 50 million to buy seven Mitsubishi ASX SUVs. The department’s director general Abdul Barik sent the letter on 16 July.
‘Not a right decision’
As part of austerity measures, the finance ministry on 2 July issued a circular imposing restrictions on procuring new vehicles. The circular suspends purchase of all kinds of vehicles. However, the authorities can spend money on replacement of over 10-year-old cars taking approval from the finance division.
The government should continue its austerity measures as the pressure is mounting on foreign currency. It would not be a right decision to purchase new vehicles for the government officers centering the election in such a situationSelim Raihan, DU professor
It can be noted that the country’s foreign currency reserve is decreasing and the finance ministry is also under economic strain. The power division’s subsidy cannot be released due to the economic situation while the agriculture ministry cannot make payment of fertilizer for not getting the subsidy.
Dhaka University’s economics department professor Selim Raihan told Prothom Alo that the government should continue its austerity measures as the pressure is mounting on foreign currency. It would not be a right decision to purchase new vehicles for the government officers centering the election in such a situation.
He said it’s not that they don’t have cars. Existing vehicles can be repaired if needed. New cars can be bought when the country’s economic situation improves.