Saturday, July 30

Harking back to failed LPT of 90s

The PML (N)-led Punjab government will be re-introducing much-criticised Yellow Cab Scheme, sources told TheNation on Thursday.
The Scheme (taxi service) has been brought to the fore in Punjab Budget 2011-2012, being presented on Friday (today). As per sources, unemployed youth will be given the interest free 800cc cars after depositing Rs 20,000 or maximum Rs 30,000. This has been decided to help lessen unemployment in the Punjab.
Secondly, it has also been asserted that these cabs would be used to replace rickshaws. That is why, the scheme would be introduced in major cities of the province, including five City District Governments.
This has been pronounced publically by the PML-N bigwigs on more than one occasion that the scheme would be re-introduced since the same party in February 1992 had launched the programme, which was considered to have played a significant part in the deterioration of nationalised commercial banks. An entity, now a private sector, was virtually brought it to the brink of disaster, and its opponents considered it a political bribe for PML-N workers. However, despite catching abundant flak from the political adversaries, the N-League has gone ahead with the scheme.
Earlier, the result was a lot of NAB-ised cases. In April last year after 15 years, an accountability court acquitted former Habib Bank Limited president Younis Dalia in the yellow cab scheme fraud case. However, the co-accused, former HBL senior vice president Peer Deedar Jan Sarhandi, was convicted and sentenced to 14 years’ imprisonment with a fine of Rs 60 million. The accused were facing charges of financial irregularities, which had caused a huge loss to the bank in the yellow cab scheme. The National Accountability Bureau had filed a reference against Dalia and Sarhandi in 1996, stating that both the accused had committed a fraud of Rs 60 million in the recovery of yellow cabs. The reference was closed under the National Reconciliation Ordinance, but was reopened after the Supreme Court declared the NRO null and void.
Also, the Yellow Cab scheme was drifted by the elite class, when it made full use of influential sources in the banks, and got imported cars of world famous brands. After getting these cars as taxis in their name, they converted them to ‘personal’ vehicles. In due course, they also stopped paying instalments, and all the relevant laws were violated as well. To avoid usage of these vehicles in this way, the cabs have been restricted to 800cc. The sources were the view that there was a possibility that the bar could be lifted.
Secondly, after some time, these vehicles were sent to Afghanistan through the porous Durand Line. That is why, one sees less ‘yellow cabs’ across Pakistan, while these vehicles can be found in abundance in the neighbouring country.
The jugglery of ‘yellow cab’ figures apart, the fact was that the Scheme had definitely run into snags and the dead end was reached in a very short time. The tactics of the exploiters, who had made it a regular business, was to invest Rs 15,000 as initial payment, took the delivery of the vehicle, and made earnings out of it till the time of repayment began. Then they made over the vehicle to the dealers, showing their inability to pay the instalments, which meant without incurring any liability. In the process, they had a net earning of Rs. 50,000 or so.

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