Accounting For Government Cars In Jordan

How many times have you gone shopping for groceries only to find a red-plated government car parked outside? At the cinema? At malls? In various places where you would least expect a red-plated number to be? I only have two hands, but suffice to say my personal count is, at this point, immeasurable. Obviously, this is no indication, or at least evidence, of misuse, that is of course until you see the chauffeur driving around the misses who is all dressed up to do some serious shopping. But even then, it’s just a perspective – a single angle that can be easily interpreted differently.

Which is why I found this article today so darn interesting:

من ناحية اخرى ، قال البراري ان مجموع المخالفات المسجلة منذ بداية العام على السيارات الحكومية بلغت نحو 1770 مخالفة.

وأضاف البراري خلال افتتاحه امس في مقر الديوان ورشة عمل حول استخدام السيارات الحكومية ، ان مجموع السيارات الحكومية العاملة يتجاوز الــ (22000) سيارة رصدت لها مخصصات بنحو 22,5 مليون دينار في موازنة العام 2010 مقارنة مع 86 مليون دينار في العام 2009 و 50 مليون دينار في العام 2008


وقال ان اسطول السيارات الحكومية ضخم ويستلزم رقابة فاعلة للحد من تجاوزات يقوم بها البعض بهدف وقف الهدر بالمال العام وفقا لتوجيهات الحكومة فيما يتعلق بترشيد الانفاق الحكومي.


وبين البراري أن مجموع المخالفات في النصف الثاني من العام 2008 بلغ نحو 3598 مخالفة ارتفع ليبلغ نحو 9214 مخالفة خلال العام الماضي ، مشيرا الى قرار رئيس الوزراء تشكيل لجنة من ديوان المحاسبة وكل من وزارات تطوير القطاع العام ، والمالية ، والأشغال العامة لدراسة استخدام السيارات الحكومية ليصار الى وضع نظام تقره الحكومة ينسجم وتوجهات ترشيد وضبط الانفاق

واشار إلى أن أغلب المخالفات تتمثل في استخدام المركبة لأغراض شخصية خارج أوقات الدوام الرسمي وتحميل اشخاص غير موظفين وكتابة أمر حركة مفتوح وعدم وجود وسم على المركبة باسم الدائرة وقيادة المركبة من شخص غير مخول وعدم الامتثال لإشارة شرطي المرور بالتوقف Ùˆ استخدام دفتر أمر حركة جميع أوراقه مختومة وتوصيل موظفين من منازلهم إلى مركز عملهم وبالعكس ومبيت المركبات في مناطق سكنية. (الدستور – رشدي القرالة) [source]

That’s a lot of fines, and for way too many reasons. One of my favorites is perhaps the refusal to adhere to a traffic policeman’s directions, especially when he’s asked them to stop. I’ve seen this one plenty of times. A red-plated car will simply speed by despite the manic gestures of the policeman who dared to wave them down in the first place. Doesn’t he know who’s driving that car? Probably not.

As for the horrendous $22.5 million from the 2010 budget allocated to the 22,000 government cars, suffice to say, horrendous is all I could think of. To make matters worse, this is actually the lowest figure in three years, at least according to the article. Great. Putting security vehicles aside – although I personally don’t know why we need policeman driving around in Audis, but that’s another story – I’m forced to wonder what accounts for all these red-plated Escalades, Suburbans, Mercedes and BMWs? Why is the government spending so much money on the latest models of high-end cars?

Get a Prius!

It’s interesting to note that government cars are perhaps the most visible government expenditure the general Jordanian public is exposed to on a daily basis. Or, to put it in another way, the appearance of such cars on the street instinctively push a citizen to wonder if it’s being misused. In other words, they are the most scrutinized on a day-to-day basis.

While to some, government cars may appear insignificant, the fact is they not only fall under public perceptions, but represent millions and millions spent from the national budget. Not only for their purchase and maintenance, but also those damn gas coupons, which allows certain people the privilege to fill their gas tanks and hand the gas station attendant a coupon before speeding off. This also applies to the diplomatic community, which has the same privilege I believe. It’s just another way of letting everyone know that we are an oil-rich country.

Well not really, but we love to act like it.

This reminds me of a few years back when the parliament approved the purchase of BMWs for its members, including ministers. At the time, only the Islamists and a few opposition voices were heard and shut down. It took an order from the King, who was not in the country when the decision was made, to have all those cars returned, thus inspiring that Mahjoob caricature posted above. Is that what it will take this time – again? Not to long ago actually, a different parliament wanted to sell their tax exemptions – one of the unfortunate perks they receive by assuming public office.

A government crackdown isn’t going to work on a broken system. The system itself – the approach taken with regards to the purchase and use of government cars – needs to be reformed completely before placing the necessary mechanisms that ensure their accountability.


  • $22.5 million is not that big of a deal Nasim :), we can take it, don`t you worry.

    Magical solutions/tools/mechanisms won`t work unless a generic authenticated overhaul takes place, in all aspects.

    thx 4 this.

  • I hope they move forward with this crackdown, and add to it military car and driver privileges,just because your husband is some basha doesn’t mean you and your idiot driver can double park blocking the street the entire time you’re in a hair salon. The abuse is not only in personal use of the government car but also however is driving thinks he is God and can park wherever, speed, and blind you with high beams until you get out of their way.

    The government can really cut down on it’s auto expenses and generate so much revenue from the penalties.

    The government should use buses to collect parliamentary representatives (if we have them again)and bring them to meetings, they don’t do much anyways, and they can snooze on the bus ride so maybe they will be awake for the meetings.

  • The ratio of cars-to-citizens is astonishing. But lets dig deeper for a second, the drop in spending on cars is close to 75% in one year, how is that even possible? How much of that drop is attributable to oil prices?

    Plus,for this year they are projecting that,on average, a thousand JD’s will be spent on each car..Does that include gas, maintenance, and more importantly the salary of the driver(in many cases)?

    On a side note,how sure are you that police cars are governmental cars?

    And on why audi? who is the dealer?

  • Gas coupons for the diplomatic community? I don’t think so. At least I have seen drivers of cars with diplomatic number plates paying cash at gas stations.

  • Well said.

    What is astonishing is that a country that practically lives on aid and always rants about how taxes and so are made for the well being of the massively affected budget, would use AUDI as Public Security autos.

    How many economic decisions were made for the benefit for someone’s business while it took its toll on the less fortunate people?

    Now, Jordan is facing a huge deficit; but I hardly think that it is the fast fading middle class and poor people who are causing this than the hasty economic decisions that show a great hypocrisy…

    As a society and government we have clearly a problem with Mercedes, we want it so bad to brag, yet we can’t afford it what do we do? We pretend like we can and ride our debts away but one day we’ll have to face these consecutive decisions…

  • @Haitham: valid point

    @Maha: lol, funny and true.

    @Mohanned: “On a side note,how sure are you that police cars are governmental cars? And on why audi? who is the dealer?” I’m not, but 22,000 is a large number to be defined as strictly meaning ministers and ministries. Police vehicles are likely included in that number. As for the dealer. I can’t remember, but Gharghour is the dealer for Mercedes and I would assume that their biggest local client in the past half century has been the Jordanian government. That’s an educated guess.

    @Fred: “Gas coupons for the diplomatic community? I don’t think so. At least I have seen drivers of cars with diplomatic number plates paying cash at gas stations.” Not sure to who it applies to exactly, but I’ve been in a diplomatic car on two different occasions where the payment was done with a coupon book. Actually, I’ve seen that book being given as a gift.

    @Yasmine: let’s hope things are set to change soon…

  • About the diplomatic community they ain’t got nothing on government officials, no coupons or nothing, just 1 tax exempt car that’s all the car privileges they got.
    But that number about the budget for so many cars doesn’t really make sense, what kind of car costs a 1000 jd a year to maintain?

  • @bambam: i’ll double-check on the diplomatic thing and verify it either way. as for 1,000jds a year to maintain. Not sure of the breakdown. I assume insurance, licensing and all that is probably factored in.

  • Let them drive Skodas.

    I hadn’t heard the story about the king returning the BMWs, good for him. I would have been with the Islamists on that one.

  • Police cars and military should not be touched.
    Low key and big shots misuse the “numra 7amra” this is true.
    Just a note, 22,000 cars are mostly tractors,run down toyotas and KIAs.
    Guys, this is just a piece in the big puzzle. Yes we should focus on this and other things,but we got much more serious issues.

    The whole system is broken. I pray to God it will not continue like this, because many young men are losing hope. You either be someone’s wealthy or affluent offspring, or you’ve mastered a modest craft and enjoying limited income and options or practicing every possible method in breaking the law to get by and rich. Meanwhile, try your luck elsewhere, and spare us the patriotic speeches, you got some mouths to feed.

    Those who are pirating the country should realize that on the long run, they can’t live anymore in their gated communities in the middle of a jungle. Some official at Naoor’s Baladyeh showing off his rundown Toyota with Numra Hamra should be spared your anger, give him a break.

  • I do think police cars are owned by the government, since general security is under the ministry of interior (is it not?). As for why Audi? I would have to guess that Nuqul Automotive (and Audi) just cut the government the best deal (in terms of both vehicle prices AND service contracts) as part of increasing their brand awareness. Nothing better for your brand than having it driving around streets with unique colors and flashing lights.

    As for the budget, ~JD1000/car, is more than reasonable when you factor in just the gas.

    One thing to keep in mind is that the government’s fleet also includes trucks and pickups owned by wazart el asghal.

  • lol @ maha`s comment 😀
    I agree with what Yasmi wrote; there will come a time -for some it did already- we must face the outcomes of our actions.

  • I wonder why does a CEO of a independent governmental entity need an S-class (and not more than 2 years old) to perform his duties? Most probably the CEO of such entities will stay at his office. I remember when I used to work with one of those, that we were instructed by the CEO to save and to cut down the use of A4 paper. We were ordered to use old paper( that was printed with huge amounts with the old banner) if we needed to photocopy something for our internal use, which is really a great idea. But on the same time the CEO was using an S class with at least 2500 CC engine.

    I hope this government is doing something for real about this issue.

  • @Hamzeh: “One thing to keep in mind is that the government’s fleet also includes trucks and pickups owned by wazart el asghal.” true. there’s a lot of red-plated GAM trucks and min. of public works on the road. widely visible. as for the 1,000, again – don’t know what that includes. probably not fuel costs though.

  • I agree with getting a Prius, not because of its gas-saving ability, but because of its faulty breaks that causes the car to crash against poles and walls in streets

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