With Hindustan Motors halting production of its iconic Ambassador car that was almost eponymous with the ‘sarkari lal batti’ car, the government, too, has opened its gates for other vehicles that can be used as staff cars.
The finance ministry has said that cars with a net dealer price of up to Rs 4,75,000 can be purchased as staff cars by ministries.
“The ministry has been receiving requests from various ministries and departments for inclusion of new models of cars or alternatively to purchase certain vehicles for use as staff cars... since many of the approved cars are no longer under manufacture,” the department of expenditure in the finance ministry said in a missive to all ministries earlier this month.
Hindustan Motors had in May this year announced that it had suspended production at its Uttarpara factory in West Bengal due to weak demand and lack of funds.
Many government officials have already migrated to other models with the Maruti Suzuki Swift DZire, SX4 and the Tata Indigo being popular choices, though according to a 2004 list of approved cars that could be used for official purpose include models such as the Maruti Esteem, Tata Indigo apart from Ambassadors. However, the latest directive makes it clear that government offices can completely replace the Ambassador with other cars.
“Secretaries of all government departments in consultation with the financial advisors can decide on the make and model of the cars based on parameters including price availability, ease of maintenance, service facility in the specific location of the office, fuel economy, eco-friendliness, etc,” the circular further said. The finance ministry said that the directive also supersedes previous instructions on models approved for use as staff cars.
Many government departments and bodies had been seeking directions on which vehicle to purchase as staff cars.
For instance, the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation had sought permission from its Executive Committee in June this year to purchase official vehicles.
While the retirement fund manager was keen to replace the Ambassador with the Maruti Dzire, a decision on the proposal was deferred.