Thu | Nov 15, 2018

In police vehicle saga | MoBay flare-up led to signing of moratorium

Published:Thursday | January 18, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Diane McIntosh

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security Diane McIntosh yesterday admitted that she signed an agreement for a one-month moratorium to facilitate the payment of special consumption tax (SCT) and general consumption tax (GCT) for the first 30 vehicles imported by O'Brien's International Car Sales and Rentals Limited in June last year.

The company was contracted to supply the police force with 200 pre-owned vehicles, but to date, has only delivered 34.

Quizzed by members of Parliament's Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC), McIntosh indicated that she signed off on a one-month moratorium to allow for the vehicles to be delivered by the supplier.

A June 29, 2017, letter from a senior technocrat from the Ministry of Finance stated: "Please be advised that a moratorium of one month has been granted to the Ministry of National Security to facilitate the payment of taxes on a shipment of 30 cars being imported by O'Brien's International Car Sales and Rentals Limited valued at $22,001,377.00."

Committee member Mikael Phillips asked: "On what basis did we sign the first moratorium letter if the supplier was to pay the taxes? It would have set a precedent that the Ministry (of National Security) is accepting the liability."

While seemingly acknow-ledging Phillips's assertion, McIntosh said: "The upsurge at the time in Montego Bay was really of pressing concern, and the vehicles were needed. At that time, that was why that was signed because there was really pressure. By the time it came to the second (moratorium letter), we just refused to sign."

Asked if the $9 million for SCT and GCT had been paid on the 30 vehicles, the permanent secretary said the supplier wrote a letter to the ministry in December committing to pay the taxes.

However, chairman of the PAAC Dr Wykeham McNeill questioned how the vehicles could be operating on the roads without the Customs fees being paid.

"Those vehicles driving on the road are subject to seizure," said McNeill.

McNeill has summoned senior technocrats from the Ministry of Finance and Jamaica Customs to PAAC's meeting next Wednesday to answer questions on the matter.