There is talk that despite directives given by Prime Minister Andrew Holness that vehicles assigned to outgoing Ministers not be sold to them, that some vehicles were indeed sold .
After the new PNP Administration took office in 2011, Jamaica House responded to queries surrounding the purchase of new Sport Utility Vehicles for Ministers of Government to the tune of US$694.000 or J$60 million. According to published reports the vehicles purchased were a shade below or at the level of the maximum allowable spend on government vehicles. The maximum amount allowed is US$35,000 per vehicle. The cheapest vehicle purchased for new government ministers was a 2012 Audi for Finance Minister Dr Peter Phillips. The car cost US$32,327.96. The other vehicles, all SUVs, were a shade under the US$35,000 upper limit.
I am not in a position to say one way or the other whether the sell-off was good policy or whether the new administration over spent on purchasing new vehicles.
On the face of it there doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with the decision to purchase new vehicles for ministers of Government. Practically speaking the prices quoted seemed conservative insofar as the cost of vehicles go in today’s market. Neither would I challenge the decision of the then Government to purchase Sport Utility Vehicles when the quality of the Island’s roads and terrain is considered.
It would be speculative and probably disingenuous to litigate those expenditures. Government Ministers should have vehicles as one of the tools in their tool-boxes in order to do the jobs they are asked to do.
In the same breadth it is also within the purview and right of the newly elected Administration to say even though we have benefited from this practice in the past we are going to discontinue this practice. In light of this, it is important that if true, the Jamaican people are made aware of which former Ministers were allowed to purchase the vehicles, and on whose authority the sales were carried out?
The JLP campaigned on its core principles of fiscal conservatism, and good stewardship of the public’s trust under the slogan “from poverty to prosperity“. On that basis the then Prime Minister elect was within his right to ask that no vehicle be sold as was customary. This was particularly important when the critical state of the Island’s economy is considered.
One of the failures of the previous Administration was it’s refusal/inability to communicate with the Jamaican people.
It is critically important that Prime Minister Holness acquits himself and his administration of that baggage before it becomes his and his administration’s criticism as well.
The People’s National Party in my opinion is masterful at creating illusions and smear using lies and innuendos. It is important that the new Administration speak with maximum clarity and due dispatch on the true state of the Jamaican economy. With each passing day the chance that the new administration can lay blame for problems left by the PNP at the feet of the PNP becomes less doable, less credible.
The new Government must have an open line of communication with the Jamaican people, failing which it must prepare itself to be deluged with claims that all of the failures of the past administration are it’s own. It’s not good enough to have good intentions and be working for the common good alone. It’s important that the people be made aware of the true situation the new administration inherited.
There are rumblings as well that monies available to Ministries were depleted rapidly as soon as it became clear that there would be a change in Government. I have heard no word from the new administration on whether there is any truth to these stories or whether there was anything criminal or unethical about this.
The JLP did a great job of communicating with Jamaicans at home and abroad while it was in campaign mode. The party must continue to apprise the people of the facts now that it is in Government.The people must feel this new administration is their administration or it won’t be long before it finds itself on the outside looking in again.
The PNP is masterful at reassigning blame for it’s incompetence and corruption.
By Mike Beckles – Check out his blog HERE
Remember to share this article on Facebook and other Social Media Platforms. To submit your own articles or to advertise with us please send us an EMAIL at: [email protected]