Cut down to size

Friday, 3 February 2012 00:01 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

THE decision by the Government to reduce allowances paid to governors, provincial chief ministers and provincial ministers in respect of their telecommunications facilities, fuel and vehicles will come as a welcome change to most people.

In most instances the people are fed up of the excesses and corruption of elected politicians that use thug power and influence to waste public money. Trimming the privileges they get to ‘serve’ the people will not only reduce the unfairness of disparity, but also give them an idea of how the average person lives.  

Accordingly, their monthly fuel quota has been reduced from 750 litres of petrol per month to 600 litres. The monthly fuel quota for diesel vehicles has been reduced to 500 litres. The monthly petrol quota given to provincial ministers and chairmen has been reduced to 400 litres and the diesel quota to 300 litres. The monthly petrol quota for the deputy chair men of provincial councils has been reduced to 200 litres and the diesel quota to 150 litres.

The number of official vehicles issued for personal and defence matters of the governors and the chief ministers has been reduced to three. The official vehicles reserved for the provincial ministers is two and for the deputy chairmen of the provincial councils, one.

The number of mobile phones issued to the governors, chief ministers, provincial ministers and chair men has been limited to one. Also, their monthly mobile phone allowance has been reduced. They have also been instructed to recruit qualified officials from the public service as their personal staff. They have been instructed to employ their drivers only for official purposes. Their drivers’ monthly overtime has been limited to 200 hours and the fuel allowances given to their personal staff have been reduced.

This list alone gives an idea of the luxury that the officials have been living with and enjoy at the expense of the tax payer. Since most of these excesses are rarely displayed openly to the public and no effective steps have been taken to fight corruption in a meaningful manner, one can only speculate as to how much money is wasted.

While this is a positive step by the Government, the belt tightening should happen at central government level as well with ministers, particularly Cabinet members and their large bevy of sidekicks, ending the kickbacks from the public.

If the Government is sincere about protecting public interest then it needs to fight corruption that stems from unnecessary politicisation. More public money is wasted through corruption that on the privileges of top officials and both need to be reduced if the people are to really gain from it.

Therefore, while the Government has reduced the luxuries on the surface, there will not be a constructive effect on the bureaucracy and good governance of the country unless a more holistic approach is taken.

Piecemeal solutions have become the norm of the government while burning questions are neglected. Not only should the privileges of governors and chief ministers be reduced their performance must also be evaluated to know that the public money is spent on worthwhile individuals – an utopian dream that will give privileges to the people.