Gazipur City Corporation’s approval to purchase 31 vehicles has also been cancelled.
District Commissioners (DCs) and Upazila Nirbahi Officers (UNOs) are not getting new cars before the National Assembly elections. The government withdrew from the decision to buy 261 new jeeps for 61 DCs and 200 UNOs on the proposal of the Ministry of Public Administration.
Earlier, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs meeting held on October 11 approved the purchase of these vehicles.
In a meeting with the Economic Reporters Forum (ERF) on Monday (November 6), Bangladesh Bank Governor Abdur Rauf Talukdar said that the decision to buy the car has been postponed.
He said, “Finally these cars are not being bought. It has been postponed. This decision has been taken to save foreign exchange and implement the austerity program of the government.”
In the meeting held at the head office of Bangladesh Bank, Finance Secretary Dr. Md. Khairuzzaman Majumder was present.
During the election usually DCs act as Returning Officers and UNOs as Assistant Returning Officers. All the responsibilities and powers of the elections in the respective constituencies are basically in their hands. For these officers, it is proposed to purchase Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) or Jeep from the Ministry of Public Administration.
Each car of ‘Mitsubishi Pajero Sport QX’ model was estimated to be around Rs. It was decided to buy the cars through direct purchase method without tender at a cost of Tk 381 crore 58 lakh.
After the announcement of this decision, financial sector analysts criticized it, saying that the decision to buy the cars has been taken at a time when the government is facing a cash crunch. Foreign exchange crisis is going on in the country. Due to lack of necessary funds, it is not possible to release the electricity and fertilizer subsidy on time. Due to the dollar crisis, the price of electricity from abroad remains outstanding. It is not possible to pay the dues of foreign suppliers of gas and fuel oil on time.
The decision to buy a car at such a time is referred to as ‘political’ and ‘luxurious’ by many.
Similarly, it is reported that other companies whose offers to buy cars were approved on special consideration have also been put on hold. On October 25, Gazipur City Corporation was approved to purchase 31 heavy vehicles of mini trucks and water bowsers from the local government department. After the finance department raised an objection, the local government department canceled the approval given to Gazipur City Corporation.
It is learned that other institutions which have sent proposals to the finance department seeking permission to buy cars on special consideration will not be approved. On September 11, the University Grants Commission (UGC) had written to the Finance Department seeking Rs 20 crore for the purchase of new vehicles. The organization proposes to buy new cars for the vice-chancellors of 14 universities. Besides, various organizations including Bangladesh Science and Industrial Research Institute, Khulna City Corporation, National Media Institute, Ministry of Science and Technology have proposed to buy one or more cars. But the finance department will not approve any proposal now, it is said.
On July 2, with the aim of reducing government expenditure, a directive was issued that the purchase of all types of vehicles (motor vehicles, water vehicles, air vehicles) will be stopped under the management and development budget in the fiscal year 2023-24. At the same time, it is mentioned in the directive that the money allocated to the motor vehicle, watercraft and aircraft sector under the operational budget will be stopped.
Although it is said in that circular, ‘There is an opportunity to spend with the approval of the finance department in the case of replacement of motor vehicles older than 10 years.’ Taking advantage of that opportunity, the proposal of the Ministry of Public Administration was approved. But now considering the financial situation, the government has come back.