There is much lively discourse, both online and offline, on the government’s proposal to do away with the pool vehicle system and replace it with an allowance.
A majority is convinced that pool vehicles are misused, and that doing away with the practice would save the government millions. This group wants to be ruthless and lauds the government idea of replacing all pool vehicles. The other group, while at one on the misuse, is concerned about the thousands of drivers and their families, who would become jobless overnight if the proposal comes through.
For whatever reasons, government pool vehicle has been an issue as long as we can remember. In other words, we had identified the problem long ago, but are yet to find a solution. In the past, there were not many vehicles and it was acceptable to use a government vehicle for some personal reasons. The “dashos”, some recall, would behave as if the vehicle belonged to them, and wouldn’t even allow subordinates to use it, even for official work.
A lot has changed since then. There are now more than 5,000 government vehicles, excluding those in the armed forces. Fueling and maintaining them is expensive and, if they are misused, which many say is still rampant, cost implications are more severe.
Resources will be saved, if pool vehicles are replaced with an alternative. But making an alternative workable would require a lot of brainstorming. A lot of conclusions are being drawn, even before it is clear which pool vehicles will be replaced by allowances.
If we are talking about the “duty cars” allotted to executive level civil servants, and those in the government-owned corporations, the allowance system could work.
But if we’re talking about replacing all 5,000 pool vehicles, that would need detailed and careful study, before coming to a decision. We can only surmise the pay commission will look into the possibility from all sides. Outsourcing government’s vehicular need to the private seems like a solution, but will it be cheaper? Will it reduce misuse? And can it not lead to collusion? These are a few questions that need to be considered.
It is not sure how much would be saved from this to fund the impending civil service pay raise. But what we know for sure is misuse of pool vehicles should be curbed. There is technology available today to monitor vehicle movement and reduce misuse, but it can only help to a certain limit.
In the end, it boils down to the professionalism of our officials, who monitor movements of pool vehicles, and who drives them around.