No more 'freebies' for oil ministry employees

Vol 15, PW 3 (11 Aug 11) People & Policy

Long overdue, the oil ministry is cracking down on government employees that routinely use state-owned oil marketing companies as a free taxi and personal valet service.

In an unprecedented move, the ministry’s director administration PK Singh issued a circular on July 27 to all ministry employees saying “nobody should use the infrastructure or staff of oil marketing companies.” Not just ministry bureaucrats, but even administrative employees at the ministry are well-known for rampantly treating the employees and cars owned by IndianOil, Hindustan Petroleum and Bharat Petroleum as personal property.

“Often one of these companies is asked to provide a car and driver because some ministry official’s wife wants to go shopping,” says a frequent oil ministry visitor. “Or officials use these cars to get their children picked up from school or for weekend family holidays!” A source at a state-owned oil company admits that until now it had little choice but to comply with such absurd demands.

“Ministry officials use our facilities free but do us no favours in return,” he says. “But they happily do ‘favours’ for private companies.

” Still unclear is what prompted this sudden clampdown by the ministry. But it is believed to have been on the instigation of oil secretary Girish Chaturvedi, known for his modesty.

On August 1, Singh released another internal note, bluntly asking ministry employees to, “Please confirm if you are using vehicles provided by oil marketing companies” All ministry officials have likewise been directed to release any ‘borrowed’ PSU employees. Around 115 such employees are on secondment from IOC, BPCL and HPCL and can be found not doing a great deal in various ministry departments.

“Use these employees only if there is good reason,” we hear, “like an acute shortage of staff and only with the permission of the oil secretary.”

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