Government coffers suffered a loss of around Rs. 4 billion owing to a decision made by the Department of Registration of Motor Vehicles to extend a contract given to a private company to issue smart driver licences, an investigation conducted by the Committee on Public Accounts (COPA) has revealed.
The private company had a contract for seven years and when its term ended, the Department gave it a two-year extension, causing a massive loss, the COPA probe has revealed.
The COPA has found that the contract the company entered into with the RMV ended in 2016.As per the provisions of the contract, the private company should have handed over its machinery used for the issuing of smart licences to the RMV so that the department could issue them on its own. However, the company instead of handing over their machines, continued to obtain extensions. If the task had been carried out by the Department it could have earned an average income of Rs. 120 million a month.
The department issued between 60,000 and 70,000 driver licences a month and during the month of August the number had gone up to 92,000, an official of the RMV said in response to a question raised by COPA member MP Dr Nalinda Jayatissa.
An applicant was charged Rs 1,700 per a licence and the private company would keep Rs 1,340 of that amount while the balance Rs 360 was released to the RMV.
Officials admitted that the contract with the private company had expired but they were not ready to take over the task of issuing smart licences themselves.
The private company as per the contract is bound to provide technology and training to RMV officials by the end of their contract period of seven years. Even though two and half years have elapsed, the company has failed to fulfil that contractual obligation.
The RMV officials said that they did not have sufficient number of employees to be sent for the training considering the workload at the department.
Chairman of the COPA MP Lasantha Alagiyawanna and the officials of the Department of Auditor General had ordered the RMV Commissioner Jagath Chandrasiri and Secretary to the Ministry of Transport to take immediate action to take over the task of issuing smart driver licences from the private company.
If the government carried out the task of issuing the smart driver licences then the fee charged from the applicants could be reduced. If the RMV needed, it could set up a company managed by the government for the purpose and the approval of the Cabinet too could be obtained for that purpose, the COPA told the RMV officials.
Chairman MP Alagiyawanna said that as per the provisions of the new Audit Act, the Secretary of the Ministry of Transport and the Commissioner of the RMV would have to bear the responsibility for the loss incurred on government for not ending the contract after the agreed seven years of the contract.
Chairman Alagiyawanna ordered the Secretary to the Ministry of Transport to submit a report within two weeks on the contract between the RMV, the private company and what tasks had been completed.
(Source: The Island – By Saman Indrajith)