Many have opined, but none have dared to solve the touchy issue of vehicle quota privilege that has led to enormous financial losses to the Government in taxes, not to mention other associated negative impacts such as unsustainable importation of vehicles leading to traffic congestion, increase in accidents, increase in fossil fuel consumption etc. This is a privilege known and understood by all as legalized evil that can be likened to tobacco and alcohol that continues to be tolerated. It is tolerated because the private sectors do not have much say on it to influence the decision of the government. The beneficiaries composed of senior civil servants, high level bureaucrats and politicians always have bestowed this privilege upon themselves for decades.
The present Government’s recent statement to take down the vehicle quota system has come as a shocking surprise after their election pledge to extend the facility to every household and also promises of enhancing the value to Nu.1.3 million. This decision is expected to invite lots of flaks from the public, political parties and the opposition, and only deservedly so as the decision will renege on their own pledge. For those who have looked upon DNT’s pledge to increase the value of vehicle quota to buy bigger cars, the volte-face will come as sheer disappointment.
But for all their shortcomings, we would be the wiser to forgive them if they really put their money where their mouth is, vis-à-vis remove the Vehicle Quota System. This is not an easy decision for any Government. Hundreds of civil servants and another hundred elected members and constitutional position holders who enjoy this privilege are expected to be displeased with the move. Today the quota is traded blatantly without any qualms in the social media. The recent audit reports of estimated tax revenue losses of over Nu. 3 billion in 5 years. Are we talking about having missed on the opportunity to build ourselves a state-of-art healthcare facility with our own money because those in the decision making positions in the past did not dare or care. Someone with courage needs to do the dirty job at great risk. So let us not grudge the current Government for putting an end to the vehicle quota system after having benefited from it. Let us encourage and welcome this bold move by the Government.
But could this decision be undone in the future. What if this is again used as a campaign tool by another political party during the next election? How do we ensure this evil is buried once and for all? Will the absence of vehicle quota be used as an excuse by the next Government to gift themselves Nu. 5 million grant for purchase of vehicle? While doing away with the quota, the Government must also ensure the decision is irrevocable in the future through institution of irreversible legislative measures. To those who will miss out on tax benefit, the removal of vehicle quota might mean settling for a small inconspicuous car. But we should all be happier, for the revenue recouped could mean better roads, good schools, better healthcare facilities, better irrigation facilities for our farmers etc. This move by the Government might yet be the biggest achievement of all elected governments that will be appreciated by all future generations.