Amidst Severe Debt Burden, Punjab Govt To Purchase 400 Luxury Cars For Ministers, Officials
The decision of Congress led Punjab government to approve the purchase of more than 400 luxury ‘high-end’ vehicles for the CM, cabinet ministers and other government officials is estimated to cost more than Rs 80 crores, burning a hole in the state funds. Incidentally, the Punjab government is facing under a huge debt burden and revenue crunch at present. As reported by The Times Of India, the officials are currently denying any purchase order by the government of Punjab.
List of vehicles
According to the list that has been approved by the government, CM Captain Amarinder Singh will be provided with sixteen Land Cruisers, two of them being bulletproof considering his safety. Currently, eight Ambassadors and six Mitsubishi Monteros are available for use by the CM. Other than that, thirteen Mahindra Scorpios will be provided to the CM staff, and fourteen Dzire/Amaze/Ertiga will be allotted to the officers on special duty (OSD). The seventeen cabinet ministers will each be given a Toyota Fortuner or Toyota Crysta, replacing the existing Toyota Camry. Reportedly, ninety-seven Toyota Innova Crysta is to be bought for the MLAs, upgrading them from Toyota Innova. The Chief Secretary is also getting an automobile upgrade in the form of Toyota Fortuner.
As per sources many officers and MLAs have raised demands in the recent past for new vehicles citing that their current vehicles have become too old.
It is worth noting that Media Adviser to the CM, Raveen Thukral has dismissed the news saying, “Only the norms for vehicle entitlement had been approved and no purchase order had been issued”.
The problems faced
As soon as the news broke out there were uproars from the public and farmers alike focusing on the unnecessary monetary burden on the state’s resources. During the budget session in March 2018, it was pointed out by Finance Minister Manpreet Badal, that Punjab government is reeling under a humongous debt amounting to Rs 1,95,978 crore. During such a financial crisis, the government should be focusing on new strategies to curb the ongoing debt rather than adding to it.
Many farmer groups are opposing the decision of the government to approve the order of new vehicles. Representatives of Bhartiya Kisan Union have openly voiced that the current government needs to give more priority to problems faced by the common man rather than supporting the luxury lifestyle of ministers.