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Government implements new motor vehicle policy

Now ministers, officials can't purchase assigned cars before five years

Sunday, July 16, 2017

The Government has implemented a revised motor vehicle policy for the public sector, which now requires that Cabinet ministers and other senior officials must have vehicles assigned to them for at least five years before they are allowed to purchase them.

The policy took effect on June 19 this year, which means that none of the ministers and state ministers appointed by Holness in March 2016 will be able to purchase the vehicles assigned to them by the time the next general election is due.

Under the new policy, Cabinet ministers and the attorney general will not have first preference in the sale of the assigned vehicles, as the sale will be treated in the same manner as fleet vehicles. However, the officials will not be restricted from participating in the auction proceedings of the automakers.

The policy also states that if a Cabinet minister and attorney general opt to change his/her fully depreciated vehicle, the transport manager in their ministry “must assess the suitability of the assigned vehicle to operate within the ministry's fleet”.

“If the vehicle is not suitable for the fleet, then a request should be made to have it boarded in accordance with Section 8.1,” the policy instructs.

Yesterday, a public service official, who opted not to be named, said the policy was revised because new administrations have traditionally found that they were forced for re-fleet the vehicles assigned to Cabinet ministers, as the previous policy allowed ministers to purchase vehicles assigned after three years.

When the Andrew Holness Administration took office in March 2016 it had to purchase new motor vehicles, as it found that 10 of 15 vehicles assigned to executives and officials in the former People's National Party Government were purchased by them.

Documents shared with the Jamaica Observer showed that the oldest vehicle in that fleet was four years, and of the total $64,242,508.09 paid for the 10 vehicles, the Government received $13,143,546.06 when they were disposed of. The highest price paid was $1,766,000 for a three-year-old vehicle and the lowest was $906,000 for the four-year-old vehicle.

There is no information on whether five of the vehicles were purchased, as the note assigned to the names of the respective officials stated “Information to be provided.” All the others have the receipt numbers documented.

Our source said these five ministers have the vehicles in their possession, but could not say what were the arrangements made for payments.

In the meantime, the Government has placed caps on the CIF (cost, insurance and freight) on the amount that can be spent on motor vehicles for all Cabinet ministers, including the prime minister.

In the case of the prime minister, the cap is US$60,000; US$55,000 for other members of the Cabinet and president of the Senate; and US$50,000 for the attorney general.

In the case of MPs using their 20 per cent duty concession the cap is US$50,000; US$55,000 for the leader of the Opposition; US$55,000 for the Speaker of the House; a limit of US$60,000 for former prime ministers; and US$45,000 on the CIF for councillors utilising their 20 per cent duty concession.

No CIF was placed on the value of the vehicle assigned to the governor general because of privileges attached to that office.