LAHORE - Right under the nose of Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) Headquarters, the Motor Branch of Excise and Taxation (E&T) Department is involved in minting millions of rupees from innocent citizens through the agent mafia in the name of registration of vehicles, sources concerned confided to TheNation on Monday.

They said that every clerk or inspector sitting on registration window was receiving Rs500 to Rs2,000 per registration as gratification apart from genuine registration fee. About 300 to 400 cars were being registered daily with the E&T and every owner of the car has to pay gratification for registration of his vehicles, the sources alleged. An agent seeking anonymity said that they have to pay Rs500 extra for registration of local car while Rs2,000 for the registration of imported car.

A car owner standing outside the E&T office said that car owner had to pay Rs1,000 bribe for registration of his vehicle; out of this amount, clerk receives Rs500 and the agent gets the same amount. He said that if a citizen directly approaches clerk on his window to get his car registered, he objects for nothing just to tease him to come through the agent. The sources claimed that every staffer of the E&T office was involved in corrupt practices in one way or the other but neither officers of the Excise nor the ACE authorities were ready to take action against them.

An excise agent sitting outside the E&T office said that clerks of the motor branch minted millions of rupees from this branch with the connivance of their senior officers who were keeping mum over their corruption.

When contacted Motor Branch Director Rizwan Akram Sherwani and asked about the corruption being committed by his subordinate staff, he admitted corruption in his department. According to him, the department was planning to legalise the role of excise agents and had sent recommendations to the excise secretary for the registration of the agents.

To a question whether he had taken any action against his subordinate staff, he said he had punished many of his subordinates on corruption charges. Sherwani was posted in this office third time within last four years due to the reason best know to him.

An excise and taxation officer seeking anonymity said that the agent mafia was very strong. The agents bribe the excise staff very technically and provide opportunity to them to get gratification safely, he added. He said this was the reason that the previous government could not eliminate their role in the E&T despite deployment of army officers. The ACE director general could not be contacted for his version over the issue.