A new policy that will downgrade Chief Executive Officers entitled vehicles from double cabs to smaller SUV’s will save close to $2million of public funds.
The policy change applies to about 20 C.E.Os in Ministries and an additional 28 C.E.O.s in State Owned Enterprises.
Finance Minister, Sili Epa Tuioti told the Sunday Samoan the change is currently operating and was put in place in July this year.
“What they need is transport from family homes to the office,” says Sili.
“And when they do office work and need to go out on the field, they can use vehicles (such as double cabs) that are available to the office…otherwise that is the decision that has been made.”
The Minister says the change was necessary for government to reduce expenditure on vehicles.
He explained the cost difference between standard double cabs and SUVs is about $40,000 tala. When that number ($40,000) is multiplied by 48 C.E.O.s – it gives a substantial savings of $1, 920, 000 is made.
“It’s really saving costs and trying to cut down expenditure on vehicles,” said Sili.
“It is also to monitor the use of government vehicles not only by C.E.O.s but by public servants to make sure they do not abuse them. Only C.E.O.s are entitled to use vehicles for official work, reasonable hours and reasonable personal use, but other than C.E.O.s, no one else can use vehicles.”
As for Assistant C.E.O.s they can only use government vehicles after hours if they are acting on behalf of the C.E.O. when they are overseas for work.
The switch from double cabs to SUVs will not be to the luxury model but the standard one, says Sili.
He recalls there have been a lot of complaints in the past from members of the public about C.E.O.s who buy double cabs that are fully loaded “but the regulation is clear they shouldn’t do that”.
The recommendation for the switch was made by the Minister of Finance and from the Ministry of Finance to Cabinet.
Sili was also asked about a recommendation for Ministers to switch from Toyota Prados to double cabs.
In response, he said the current regulation stipulates that Ministers are entitled to Prados.
He pointed out that it was also considered that vehicles for Ministers should be bought in bulk to allow for discounts.
“There was a question for Ministers allowing them to opt for double cabs,” says Sili.
“I think it’s the issue of position and not the person. To me, when I saw that during Independence, other Ministers coming in double cabs while others came in Prados, it didn’t look good for our guests. Because (Ministers) can’t be driving double cabs and public servants also drive them and we felt it was best to stay with the Prado as required under current regulation.”
Under the Public Finance Management (Government Vehicles) Regulations 2015, Provision 4, Use of vehicle by Chief Executive Officers and employees-
(1) A Chief Executive Officer must use the allocated vehicle for the purpose of carrying out the duties of the office.
(2) However, a Chief Executive Officer is entitled to use the allocated vehicle for personal matters after hours or while on leave.
(3) If a Chief Executive Officer is on overseas travel or taking local leave, the Acting Chief Executive Officer is entitled to 24 hours access to a vehicle, during that time.
(4) A Chief Executive Officer who cannot or is unable to drive the allocated vehicle:
(a) must, during normal working hours, designate driver of the Ministry to drive the vehicle for Chief Executive Officer; and (b) after hours, may authorise the designated driver or a relative (“assigned driver”) to drive the vehicle for the Chief Executive Officer, and the assigned driver and the Chief Executive Officer are jointly and severally liable for any matter or act arising out of the designation or authorisation to drive the vehicle.
(5) An employee (other than a Chief Executive Officer or Acting Chief Executive Officer or a designated driver authorised to drive) must not use a vehicle at any time:
(a) except for official matters or for the purpose of carrying out an exempted service during -
(i) normal working hours; or
(ii) after hours, with prior approval of the Chief Executive Officer or Acting Chief Executive Officer; and
(b) unless the designated driver is unavailable or absent from duty.