Dechen Dolkar  

The Royal Audit Authority (RAA) has observed irregularities concerning the allotment of designated vehicles of the ministers and public officials.

According to RAA, some ministers and public officials entitled to chauffeur-driven cars are provided with more than one dedicated vehicle.

According to the Pay Revision Act of Bhutan 2019, Chapter III, Allowance and Benefits Clause 42, designated duty vehicles shall be introduced to the heads of departments and autonomous agencies’ position level EX3 and above in addition to the existing position levels.

The Act  states minister, secretary, director general, and director levels are entitled to one chauffeur-driven cars.

Cabinet ministers and equivalent position holders are entitled to 3000cc SUV (FWD) with a chauffeur.

Directors or director generals of ministries, departments, autonomous agencies, constitution offices, and thrompons are entitled to a 2500cc SUV with FWD.

However, the RAA found that some of the public officials and civil servants entitled to chauffeur-driven cars were provided with more than one dedicated vehicle.

Specialists and P1 level officials who are not entitled to such perks have been found to be using designated duty vehicles.

During the review of the detailed statement showing the expenditure on maintenance of designated and pool vehicles of the FY 2021-22 and enquiry with the relevant officials, audit observed that two additional vehicles were allotted to the education minister.

RAA pointed out that allotting additional vehicles to ministers is not justifiable.

According to the education ministry, lyonpo had three vehicles for his office—Hilux was attached to lyonpo’s office as a backup car from April 15, 2022.

Prado is the main designated car for lyonpo, hybrid Toyota car was also used for travel alternatively.

Audit also observed that two additional vehicles were allotted to the minister for work and human settlement – a hybrid car and a Hilux.

According to the ministry, lyonpo used the hybrid car for local travels and Prado for long-distance travel. Hilux is used for officials accompanying the lyonpo during his constituency visits.

According to RAA, director of Department of Human Settlement was allotted two vehicles: Prado and Electric Vehicle (EV).

RAA said that the director is entitled to a designated pool vehicle but was allotted two additional pool vehicles.

The department said that the EV was identified as a common pool vehicle for the department and is being used by the officials from the department for official purposes including trips to the nearby dzongkhags. However, the audit memo was settled based on the justification provided by the department and clarification made during the audit exit meeting.

Kuensel also learnt that the agriculture and forest minister is allotted two vehicles, a Prado and a Hilux. Also, the economic affairs minister has two designated vehicles, a Prado and an EV. It was learnt that EV was given by PHPA-II authority as a backup car.

The government procured five hybrid electric cars which cost Nu 3.8M each last year.

The foreign minister, finance minister, health minister, Speaker of the National Assembly, and Chairperson of the National Council have been using the hybrid car.

Except for the health minister, four of them have surrendered the hybrid cars to the ministry of foreign affairs.

The Health Minister has surrendered the Prado to the government.