Finance Minister addresses multi-million dollar gov't spend on luxury vehicles
Finance Minister Dr Nigel Clarke this afternoon in Parliament described as incorrect a Sunday Gleaner article which stated that the Andrew Holness administration has spent $190 million on luxury vehicles.
Here's Clarke's full statement:
Mr. Speaker, on Sunday 25 March 2018 the Jamaica Gleaner published a headline article under the title ‘Luxury Rides - Government Spends $190 Million On Motor Vehicles For Ministers.’
I felt it necessary to take this opportunity to respond to some of the information contained in the article, which, as presented, wrongly implies excessive consumption by this administration on motor vehicles for Ministers of Government as compared with the Simpson Miller administration of 2012.
In my statement today I will correct some factual inaccuracies in the article and provide information that allows for a fair and reasonable comparison.
Mr. Speaker, it should be noted that at the article states that “the Prime Minister Andrew Holness' administration has purchased at least 18 high-end, high-maintenance motor vehicles at a cost of 2 approximately $190 million.”
It then goes on to state that in 2012, “the Simpson Miller administration spent $60 million to provide some of its ministers with new high-end vehicles. ”
Under the Access to Information Act, the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service supplied a table that contained information on (i) Ministry, (ii) Assignee (iii) Year of Vehicle (iv) Model of vehicle (v) CIF Value (vi) Final Purchase Price (vii) date of purchase (viii) whether the assignee was an elected member of parliament and (ix) a column with relevant remarks.
For four of the Ministries, the date of purchase was correctly stated in the document provided as prior to February 2016.
The number of vehicles stated in the article as 18 is therefore incorrect. The correct number of vehicles purchased for Ministers after February 2016 is 14.
In most instances, the Ministers of the Simpson-Miller administration bought the vehicles they were using, consistent with the then existing government policy.
In fact, 16 ministers of the previous administration, most of whom are in this House, bought vehicles assigned to them, consistent with the then existing government policy. When the new administration came in, therefore, there was a legitimate need to purchase motor vehicles for Ministers as the Ministerial fleet was depleted.
The Honourable House and the public should know that the total CIF value for new vehicles purchased by the Andrew Holness Administration since February 2016 is approximately SIX HUNDRED AND EIGHTY TWO THOUSAND UNITED STATES DOLLARS (US$682,000) compared with a CIF value of approximately SIX HUNDRED AND NINETY TWO THOUSAND UNITED STATES DOLLARS (US$692,000) for new vehicles purchased for Ministers in the Simpson Miller administration.
These are the facts.
Additional relevant facts of which the Honourable House and the Jamaican public should be aware are that under the tax reforms implemented by the Simpson Miller Administration after the purchase of motor vehicles by her government in 2012 and 2013:GCT of 16.5% became payable on Government purchases in 2014 SCT of 20% became payable on Government in 2014 CAF became payable on Government imports in 2013
(a) The Article had erroneous final numbers and prices for the purchase of new vehicles by the Andrew Holness administration by including 4 vehicles purchased prior to February 2016 and
(b) It compared two total figures, one from 2016 that had GCT of 16.5%, SCT of 20%, and CAF and compared it with another total figure from 2012 that had no such taxes.
These two facts explain that what was presented as a vast increase in consumption by the Holness administration with respect to motor vehicles is false.
Mr. Speaker, the public depends on the media for information on public affairs and this article paints a distorted picture of comparative government consumption on motor vehicles for Ministers between two political administrations.
The article is inaccurate and misleading and we hope the facts presented in this statement.