VIP numbers to be auctioned
ISLAMABAD: The excise and taxation office (ETO) Islamabad has decided to auction 27 attractive and choice registration numbers to curb corruption among its officials and discourage recommendations and the tout mafia, it has been learnt.
Recently, the city administration suspended six officials of the ETO and initiated inquiry against four others for allegedly taking bribe from vehicle owners seeking attractive or choice registration numbers.
The sources said several complaints about involvement of some officials had been lodged with the high-ups. Last month, a vehicle owner offered a bribe of Rs150,000 to a senior officer for allotting him the registration number 1 but the latter denied, the sources said. However, the man got the same number in connivance with some lower staff.
After this, an inquiry was conducted which led to the suspension of five officials. Later, five other officials were found involved in a similar practice which led to the suspension of one of them and launching of an inquiry against the others.
To resolve the matter, Chief Commissioner Tariq Mehmood Pirzada and Director E&T Naila Baqir held a meeting on January 26 to finalise a proposal to auction the so-called VIP numbers.
During the meeting, Mr Pirzada ordered strict action against the tout mafia. It may be recalled that the city administration used to auction such numbers till 2006 after which the practice was stopped and numbers were allotted in a discretionary manner.
As a result, the administration offices became flooded with applications from vehicle owners seeking these numbers.
The owners influenced the officers with recommendation from legislators, bureaucrats and other people. Besides, they also used the tout mafia to get the attractive numbers in connivance with some officials in the ETO and the district administration.
The auction of 27 attractive and choice numbers will eliminate corruption and also result in enhanced revenue for the government, an officer added.
There is a craze among people for a single digit or same digit numbers and they are ready to offer any price for them.
The officer said in practice the fee for the registration number 1 was Rs103,000, for 5 it was Rs50,000 and number 7 fetched Rs40,000. Likewise, the rate for registration number of 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 9, 10 and 11 ranged from Rs13,000 to Rs15,000.
The number 786 used to be sold out for Rs74,000, while same number in two digits like 22, 33, 44, 55, 66, 77, 88 and 99 was offered for Rs10,000.
Similarly, same number in triple digits like 111, 222, 333, 444, 555, 666, 777, 888, and 999 are sold out for Rs15,000. The fee for other choice number differed from Rs10,000 to Rs15,000 but most of the time it is given on an ordinary fee.
The ETO registered about 3,000 vehicles per month and in this regard it issued over three series of registration numbers.
Last year, the ETO stopped issuing temporary numbers to those who booked attractive and choice number of upcoming series in advance.