In the past three years, federal and provincial governments spent a massive Rs216.5 million on vehicles. If we add the budget allocated to vehicles this fiscal year, it adds up to more than Rs250 million, not including the budgets for cars of local governments and projects.
All three spheres of government are ignoring their own declaration to minimise expenses, and are wasting money on frivolous items. And the irony of it all is that the SUVs are driving along roads that are in advanced stages of disrepair because the money has all gone for expensive cars.
Read also: Disrepair
Though the government has been slow to provide development and service delivery, vehicle-related expenses have grown six-fold since 2013. The federal government is the biggest spender: provincial governments accounted for just Rs20 million spent on cars in the past three years.
This fiscal year the federal government spent 2.45% of its development budget on vehicles. While it is perennially unable to fully disburse that budget, it spent four times more on vehicles than the amount allocated, even transferring money from other budget lines to do so.
“Using unspent development budget to buy vehicles is just an unnecessary expense,” says former government secretary Purna Chandra Bhatttarai. Other experts say that it is not just elected representatives, bureaucrats are also draining state resources.
According to the 56th report of the auditor-general, among the 800 vehicles in the 22 Singha Darbar-based ministries, only 622 are operational. Some are not being used even though they are in running condition — new vehicles are being bought before old ones are phased out. After an order from the PM’s office, 201 vehicles were handed over to various organisations this year, including many that were still in working order.
Read also: No shame
“Buying new vehicles involves kickbacks, so the tendency to buy new vehicles is increasing,” says former finance secretary Rameshwar Khanal.
Four new Scorpios were bought for deputy attorney-generals last July, not because they were necessary but because the existing five-year-old vehicles were considered too old. At the end of the last fiscal year, 16 Scorpios were purchased for the chiefs of the House of Representatives and National Assembly, displacing 10-year-old vehicles.
The National Inclusion Commission bought five vehicles costing at least Rs4 million for its chief and 4 members. But to date the commission has only one member — the others have not yet been appointed. The vehicles are covered and stored on the office premises. Many other new commissions have already bought vehicles for their yet-to-be appointed members.
Read also: A klepto republic, Editorial