LAHORE: As the chief minister has started using his Rs1.50 billion new helicopter, the authorities have begun the process of purchasing a zero-meter luxury car for him.

The six-seater Beechcraft Hawker that was grounded in 2015 after it developed a technical fault is also being repaired in Germany. It is expected to be delivered by the end of the current month to add to the transport facilities of the chief minister.

The provincial government had after the crash of its helicopter in Afghanistan last year decided to buy a 12-seater jet for the chief minister. But the plan was shelved and it was decided to purchase a new helicopter instead.

Both the crashed helicopter and the airplane being repaired in Germany at present were bought by the former Pervaiz Elahi government in 2004.

Official sources said on Tuesday the 16-seater Russian MI-17 helicopter had been purchased around Rs1.50 billion as against its higher market price through haggling. It was assembled in Lahore and after successful testing flights, put into operation three days ago. Since then it was being used by the chief minister for field tours.

Sources said Mercedes Benz (valuing around Rs22 million) being purchased for “the government of Punjab” would be the latest but not an armoured car. It would nevertheless be fortified locally.

The “detour” was being made not to save money but to avoid the hassle of getting the mandatory permission of the federal government for purchasing an armoured (bullet-proof) car, the sources said.

They said the grounded six-seat aircraft was sent to its German manufacturers to find out the technical fault it had developed, and to repair it. The fault had been detected and was being removed, the sources said, hoping to get the plane back by the end of this month. The sources were not sure about the cost of the repairs and said it would be conveyed to the provincial government afterwards.

Published in Dawn, May 10th, 2017

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