Letter of the Day | Benz whistle-blower misguided, malicious
THE EDITOR, Sir:
I read with interest the article in the September 1, 2017 edition of The Gleaner under the caption '$9m Benz gathering dust at finance ministry', in which several facts were alleged by a 'whistle-blower'. I also note that the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service has provided a response. However, as the person who held the office of the financial secretary during the period in question, and as the only person named in the article, I wish to offer a few clarifications.
As part of the compensation package for the financial secretary, and consistent with compensation packages for all permanent secretaries, I was offered the option of a maintained motor vehicle or travelling allowance, per the Government of Jamaica's (GOJ) motor vehicle Policy. I opted for the use of a maintained motor vehicle. The FY 2017-18 budget for the ministry had included provisions for the acquisition of vehicles for its fleet, including for the financial secretary, given that the previous incumbent had purchased the previously assigned vehicle, also in accordance with GOJ guidelines.
After spending six months in office, the procurement for the required motor vehicle began in February 2017 and was completed on March 2017.
In March 2017, there were no "clear indications that McFarlane was on his way out of the position he held since July last year", contrary to the allegations of your purported whistle-blower. Perhaps they are purporting to have read the minds of both myself and the honourable minister of finance and the public service in respect of developments which, as far as I am aware, had not yet been contemplated. In the circumstances, I can only regard this assertion as being made with purely malicious intent. Any casual and/or well-thinking observer would have easily recognised the unanticipated nature of my transition from the ministry (viewed through the lens of a March 2017 timeline).
The cost for the vehicle was well within the c.i.f. limits of the GOJ's policy (which is specified in US$ terms).
Upon demitting office, the vehicle was returned to the ministry for use within its fleet as it saw fit, which, by the way, includes redeployment for use by any other senior executive who may be so entitled.
Those are the facts as I know them to be. In this new age of alternative facts, ill-disciplined research, and misinformation, it is important that all relevant and true information be allowed to contend.