JIS News

A programme to rationalise the fleet of unassigned government vehicles in the public sector is set to begin on October 1.
The programme is part of the government’s new motor vehicle policy, which involves a rationalisation of the unassigned vehicles in the public sector and a reduction of the number of assigned vehicles for greater efficiency and control.
Deputy Financial Secretary in the Ministry of Finance and Planning, Robert Martin, told JIS News that a team from the Ministry has been going to the various government departments to assess their fleet, to determine appropriate steps for the rationalisation process.
This would include a determination on the size of the fleet of unassigned vehicles; an assessment of the appropriateness of the types of vehicles used, and where necessary, recommend alternatives; and to determine which vehicles were no longer economical and should be disposed of or replaced.
The fleet of government vehicles totalling 2,837, consists of 140 vehicles that are assigned to individuals in the public sector and 2,697 unassigned vehicles that are used by the Police, Jamaica Defence Force, the Fire Department, National Works Agency, Regional Health Authority and another 112 ministries and departments.
Another aspect of the new policy which involves a reduction in the number of assigned vehicles, started on April 1 this year and continued on a phased basis up to August 29. However, the exercise is still being carried out, although the deadline date has passed, as not all departments have submitted the relevant information to complete the process.
The information that is required includes the purchasing dates and costs of the vehicles, chassis and licence numbers as well as types of vehicles. Mr. Martin explained that the information was necessary to update government accounts.
He noted that 98 per cent of government departments were compliant, but the remaining two per cent have yet to respond. He pointed out that these organisations were public bodies that were outside of Central Government.
The number of assigned vehicles will be reduced by approximately 70 per cent or 96 vehicles, and public servants below the level of Permanent Secretaries will no longer have this privilege.
However, these persons have been given the option of purchasing the vehicles “at very favourable terms and conditions”, Mr. Martin said. Vehicles which were not bought by assignees would be added to the fleet of unassigned vehicles, in the first instance, and if they have been found to be inappropriate, they would be sold to the public at market value, the Deputy Financial Secretary explained.
He said the government would realise significant savings if travelling allowances were granted to public servants, instead of purchasing and assigning cars.
Illustrating the point, he said that a conservative estimate of the cost to purchase and maintain a Toyota Corona over a three-year period was $1,635,000. However, allowances for the same three years at the maximum amount of $341,256 annually amounted to $1,023,768, a net saving of $611,232.
Therefore, the government would realise savings of at least $58,678,272 over a three-year period by reducing the number of assigned cars by 96, Mr. Martin explained.
The total cost to government for the maintenance and upkeep of all vehicles between 2000/2001 and 2002/2003 amounted to some $409,797,000. The Deputy Financial Secretary argued that more care would be taken in preserving the vehicles, if persons were responsible for their own maintenance cost.
The value of all 140 assigned cars is $168 million. Mr. Martin added that the total value of the government fleet of assigned and unassigned motor vehicles was still being worked out, and that this would be determined in the next four weeks.
The new motor vehicle policy also involves the phasing out of the coupon system for the purchase of petrol in favour of the Advance Card system.
Mr. Martin said the previous system was open to abuse but with the Advance Card system, “it is very difficult, if not impossible to manipulate”. Fuel cost for 2002/2003 amounted to $246,097,000.
He pointed out that the Jamaica Constabulary Force was currently phasing in the Advance Card system and that approximately 59 per cent of the government fleet purchase fuel using this method. He added that the use of coupons would be phased out by the end of the current financial year.

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