Robert Montague and Opposition Leader Dr. Peter Phillips
National Security Minister Robert Montague, in a statement to the House of Representatives Tuesday afternoon, has not left the country any clearer on when the police force can take possession of the 66 used cars now on the wharf.
There is still uncertainty surrounding the controversial procurement of police vehicles for the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) despite the National Security Minister addressing the House of Representatives about the issue on Tuesday afternoon.
The Ministry has been under fire since a revelation at the Public Administration and Appropriations Committee of Parliament last week that the supplier, O'Brien's International Car Sales and Rental, has failed to deliver a portion of the contracted number of cars and was seeking a duty and GCT waiver to clear the vehicles.
The government has since called the $42 million performance bond of the supplier after only 30 of the contracted 200 vehicles were delivered.
In the House Tuesday afternoon, Montague chronicled the procurement events, information which was already released in a statement from his Ministry last week.
Several members of the House tried without success to get clarity from the Minister, whose main response was that he was taking legal advice on the matter, bearing in mind the possibility of court action.
The response prompted Leader of the Opposition Dr. Peter Phillips to press Mr. Montague to take action.
"Why was the legal advice not sought from as far back as June, especially in the face of the rising murder rate and the lack of police mobility? Why was it not sought then?" he asked.
Yet, despite being pressed on several fronts, the National Security Minister gave all his questioners his standard response.
"Let me assure the member that, based on legal advice, based on the cost that is out there, the matter of the 66 vehicles is receiving priority attention. W have called the performance bond and we are proceeding to sort out the issues surrounding the 66 units to get them into the hands of the JCF as quickly as possible," he told the House.
The National Security Minister said a recent advertisement in local papers for the position of Director of Procurement in his Ministry has nothing to do with the police vehicle saga.
Mr. Montague said the problems with the contract between his Ministry and O'Brien's International Car Sales did not influence the search for a new Director.
"The Ministry of National Security has two distinct sections - policy and administration; and the administration is always recruiting and people are moving up, people are being promoted and there has been an ad and Jamaicans have been asked to apply. It has nothing, absolutely nothing to do with the matter of the procurement of the 200 vehicles, I want to assure you," the Minister insisted.