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Civil servants not included in ’no sale of motor vehicles' decree

Published:Sunday | March 27, 2016 | 3:00 AMErica Virtue

Prime Minister Andrew Holness' decision to refuse members of the former administration the privilege of purchasing vehicles assigned to them has not affected members of the civil service on whose behalf the policy was drafted more than two decades years ago.

Holness, in his first pronouncement after the Jamaica Labour Party won the February 25 general election - on the social-media site Facebook - said the policy of politicians being allowed to purchase vehicles assigned to them would be discontinued with immediate effect.

Some politicians from the previous administration returned vehicles assigned to them before Holness' decree, while others purchased theirs before the general election.

It is unclear if those who previously purchased their vehicles have been asked to return them, or if applications have been made by others to purchase the ones they were assigned.

But Jamaica Civil Service Association (JCSA) president O'Neil Grant says the Ministry of Finance has not informed that body of any change to the existing policy.

"To the best of my knowledge, the prime minister (then designate) was addressing politicians and not civil servants, so the current rules apply until a circular is sent to the financial secretary advising of a change. So far we have received no official communication," Grant told The Sunday Gleaner.

He said the benefit was "not a negotiated one, but heads of agencies would have made representation and the Ministry of Finance drafted a policy on the disposal of vehicles to the holders".

According to Grant, the rule can be changed by a decree from the finance ministry, but it cannot be changed retroactively.

"It can only be changed going forward," stated the JCSA president, even as others with intimate knowledge of the state operations told our news team that if the prime minister's decree becomes official, current members of his administration would be most affected.

The policy has been in effect for more than two decades, and was viewed as part of the financial package/benefits in lieu of a higher salary.

erica.virtue@gleanerm.com