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Clarke rubbishes report on $190-m spend on gov't vehicles

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — Finance Minister, Dr Nigel Clarke, has rubbished reports, which surfaced on Sunday, that the Andrew Holness-led administration purchased 18 high-end motor vehicles at a cost of approximately $190 million, as misleading and inaccurate.

Clarke told the House of Representatives today that he deemed it necessary to respond to some of the information contained in the report, which he said, as presented, wrongly implies excessive consumption by the JLP administration on motor vehicles for ministers of Government as compared with the Portia Simpson Miller administration of 2012.

Seeking to correct and clarify “factual inaccuracies”, the finance minister said that under the Access to Information Act, his ministry supplied a table that contained information on the ministry; assignee; year of vehicle; model of vehicle; CIF value; final purchase price; date of purchase; whether the assignee was an elected member of Parliament and a column with relevant remarks.

Clarke further highlighted that for four of the ministries mentioned in the report, the date of purchase was correctly stated in the document provided as prior to February 2016.

However, Clarke said the number of vehicles stated in the article as 18 was incorrect as the correct number of vehicles purchased for ministers after Feburary 2016 is 14.

The finance minister also stated that 16 ministers of the previous administration bought the vehicles assigned to them creating a need for the JLP administration to purchase vehicles as the ministerial fleet was depleted.

“The public depends on the media for information on public affairs and this article paints a distorted picture of comparative government consumption on motor vehicles for Ministers between two political administrations. The article is inaccurate and misleading and we hope the facts presented in this statement,” Clarke reiterated.

Below is Clarke's point-by-point clarification:

The Honourable House and the public should know that the total CIF value for new vehicles purchased by the Andrew Holness Administration since February 2016 is approximately US$682,000 compared with a CIF value of approximately US$692,000 for new vehicles purchased for Ministers in the Simpson Miller administration.

These are the facts. Additional relevant facts of which the Honourable House and the Jamaican public should be aware are that under the tax reforms implemented by the Simpson Miller Administration after the purchase of motor vehicles by her government in 2012 and 2013: 1. GCT of 16.5% became payable on Government purchases in 2014 2. SCT of 20% became payable on Government in 2014 4 3. CAF became payable on Government imports in 2013 In summary: (a) The Article had erroneous final numbers and prices for the purchase of new vehicles by the Andrew Holness administration by including 4 vehicles purchased prior to February 2016 and (b) It compared two total figures, one from 2016 that had GCT of 16.5%, SCT of 20%, and CAF and compared it with another total figure from 2012 that had no such taxes.

These two facts explain that what was presented as a vast increase in consumption by the Holness administration with respect to motor vehicles is false.

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