Mark Titus, Gleaner Writer
Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller has not taken kindly to criticisms being levelled at her Government for spending approximately J$60 million to purchase high-end vehicles for government ministers while the nation faces serious economic challenges.
"Being a politician does not mean you should not live the life which you have lived before," Simpson Miller said in response to a question raised at a public forum in Montego Bay on Thursday.
"A number of politicians who were professionals before they entered politics were living better than they are living now and were earning much more in terms of salaries.
RISK LOSING VALUABLE REPRESENTATIVES
"I don't support any minister going above and beyond, taking vehicles that are retrofitted and all kinds of things," Simpson Miller continued. "My Government will not accept responsibility for that … but if we continue the politics the same way, we soon will not be able to have suitable people to be our representatives."
The opposition Jamaica Labour Party has not said much on the issue. However, Dr Christopher Tufton, a former minister, declared that government ministers needed to have reliable vehicles, especially since many of them have to travel a lot for job-related matters.
Senator Sandrea Falconer, the minister with responsibility for information, recently stated that, on taking office, "some government ministers were driving their personal motor vehicles, which were incurring monthly costs for upkeep and fuel way above the car allowance".