Minister with responsibility for Information, Senator the Hon. Sandrea Falconer has informed that so far, only two new vehicles have been purchased for government Ministers in the new administration.
They are for Finance and Planning Minister, Hon. Dr. Peter Phillips, and State Minister for Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Sharon Ffolkes-Abrahams.
The Minister made the disclosure at a Jamaica House press briefing, held on March 21, at the Office of the Prime Minister.
Senator Falconer advised that none of the 10 units purchased by the former Ministers had breached stipulations in the Public Sector Motor Vehicle Policy, which state that the unit must be at least three years old and assigned to the officer for a similar period. A list of the units, which the Minister provided, showed that the units’ age and assignments spawned the years 2002 to 2009.
Ms. Falconer also told journalists that, currently, 10 Ministers and four State Ministers have vehicles assigned to them, which were inherited from the previous administration. She further informed that the remaining seven Ministers, including herself, and one State Minister, currently drive their own vehicles.
She explained that one of the Ministers who had an assigned vehicle, had been forced to use her personal car as the unit inherited, a 2007 Mitsubishi Pajero, “is not always reliable." That unit, she pointed out, had developed mechanical problems while in the possession of the previous Minister, and was taken out of the system.
“The previous Minister got a new car, which she subsequently bought, and this (Pajero) was put back into the regular fleet,” she informed.
Meanwhile, Director of Asset Management in the Ministry of Finance and Planning, which manages the public sector comprehensive motor vehicle policy, Sheila Wolfe, said she was not aware of any order being placed for the procurement of new vehicles, other than those indicated by Minister Falconer.
“The vehicles are purchased at the level of the Ministries for the Ministers. But they have to send them through to the Ministry of Finance for approval for assignment. And, as it now stands…we are not aware of any vehicles being processed or which are to be ordered,” she advised.
Regarding the purchasing of units, Mrs. Wolfe explained that, “where an official purchases the assigned vehicle after three years, he or she is obliged to retain the vehicle for official duties for a further period, satisfying the minimum five-year period for assignment. Where an assigned vehicle is not sold to the assignee after three years, the assignment shall continue until such time as the vehicle becomes uneconomical to operate."
By Douglas McIntosh, JIS Reporter