Cops used-car issue resolved, says ministry

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Cops used-car issue resolved, says ministry

By Balford Henry
Observer senior reporter
balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, January 24, 2020

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THE prolonged episode surrounding Government's experiment in importing used (or pre-owned) vehicles to improve the mobility of the police force in 2018, appears to be concluded.


Chief technical officer in the Ministry of National Security, Delroy Simpson, told the Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC) of Parliament on Wednesday that 54 of 105 vehicles, which were agreed when the contract with O'brien's International Car Rentals and Sales was whittled down from nearly $427 million to $213 million in 2018, were received.


“I am pleased to advise this honourable committee that we have received a total of 54 vehicles, more than 50 per cent of those vehicles, and we are in the process of getting the remaining vehicles,” Simpson told the select committee, chaired by Opposition Member of Parliament (MP) Dr Wykeham McNeill.


But, Opposition spokesman on national security, Fitz Jackson, was not satisfied with that development, and wondered if the civil servant was pleased that, so far, only 50 per cent of the vehicles purchased in the final agreement were already handed over to the Jamaica Constabulary Force.


“We are not pleased that we only have 50 per cent, but we are making steady progress in addressing the issue and getting the remaining vehicles, and we are confident that we will succeed,” he said.


Jackson also wanted to know whether the breakdown in the agreement meant that the Government has finally admitted that it was “a colossal mistake”, and has abandoned its “used-car policy”.


But, Simpson said that it was a not a question for him to answer.


“I am not the entity that set policy decisions…and I think it would be inappropriate for me to give my personal view,” he responded.


But, last year, acknowledging some problems with used cars, the Government budgeted for 2019/20 $1.8 billion to procure some 1,000 service vehicles for the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), after it became apparent that the vehicles were more suitable for administrative use than for patrols.


Minister of Finance and the Public Service Dr Nigel Clarke, noted the money was part of an allocation of $20.2 billion, or 28 per cent of the total capital expenditure, which the ministry received. It was the largest share of the capital budget representing an increase of $7.5 billion, or 61 per cent over the 2018/19 revised estimates.


The vehicles (primarily Axios) were assigned to support administrative functions or town/metropolitan tasks, including motor patrol in built-up areas more suited for their specifications.


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