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PM puts brakes on gov't vehicle sale to ministers

Published:Sunday | July 16, 2017 | 12:00 AMArthur Hall

Prime Minister Andrew Holness has told members of his Cabinet that they will not be allowed first preference to purchase the vehicles assigned to them after three years.

This follows confirmation that between January 2015 and December 2016, sixteen members of the former People's National Party (PNP) government purchased the vehicles which were assigned to them.

The former PNP officials spent a total of $19.6 million to purchase vehicles after the State had spent $64 million to buy them.

The oldest vehicle sold to former ministers had been purchased four years earlier, while one former government official bought his Mitsubishi Pajero in January 2016 as it hit the three-year mark.

When the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) administration was voted out of office in 2011, ten of the former ministers purchased the motor vehicles which were assigned to them.

Since taking office this time around, the JLP administration has spent some $115 million to purchase vehicles for its

ministers, with a 2016 Prado Land Cruiser valued at $8.8 million being the most expensive and a 2016 Mitsubishi Pajero valued at $6.4 million the cheapest.

No new vehicle was purchased for Holness, who continues to travel around the country in the vehicle which was used by his predecessor.

Now the prime minister has decided that the country's coffers can no longer afford this luxury and has told members of his Cabinet and the attorney general that they will no longer have first preference in the sale of the vehicles assigned to them.


Bidding for vehicles


According to a Sunday Gleaner source: "The sale of the assigned vehicle will be treated the same as a fleet vehicle, but the Cabinet ministers and the attorney general will be allowed to participate in the bidding for these vehicles."

The source added that under the new policy, where a state official decides to change his vehicle after it has been fully depreciated, the transport manager must decide if it can be moved into the general fleet or if it should be placed on the auction block.

"The PM has told the Cabinet that they can continue to operate a vehicle that has been assigned to them until it becomes uneconomical to operate, so there will be no more of this thing that the day after the vehicle reaches three years old the minister buys it at the depreciated cost," added the source.

With the Holness administration still reeling from the $8-million telephone bill racked up by Finance Minister Audley Shaw, the source said Holness has also laid down the law that no minister should exceed the US$55,000 (J$7 million) cost insurance and freight cap.