T&T PM: New TT$.9m Land Rover ‘not a gift’
(Trinidad Express) Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has defended her right to own a new, high-end luxury vehicle and yesterday dismissed any suggestion that it was a gift.
Persad-Bissessar, in June, purchased a customised black Range Rover Sport vehicle, registration PCW 1, for her personal use.
“Purchased by me, with downpayment from my personal funds acquired from my salary, with the majority payment from a loan from Parliament which is accessible to all MPs. I have to repay the loan by monthly instalments from my salary. Definitely not a gift. I pay out of my hard-earned income,” the Prime Minister texted in reply to a text query from the Sunday Express yesterday.
The Sunday Express learned that Persad-Bissessar obtained the vehicle, which averages about TT$1.8 million, at about half the cost, or about TT$900,000, based on the tax and duty exemptions afforded to political office-holders.
The registration card of the vehicle, which the Sunday Express obtained from the Licensing Office after an application was made two weeks ago, has it being registered on June 11.
It stated she got a TT$166,905 exemption from value added tax and TT$249,950 exemption from motor vehicle tax.
It also noted the vehicle cannot be transferred “within two years of its purchase without the approval of chairman of the Board of Inland Revenue”.
The Prime Minister observed that many other MPs have used this facility from Parliament to buy a vehicle as the car loan facility is part of the terms and conditions of MPs as provided for by the Salaries and Review Commission.
“Indeed, when I was a minister of government previously and when I was an opposition MP, I also accessed this facility as did many others,” she texted.
As an Opposition MP, Persad-Bissessar maintained a Prado vehicle- PCJ 3—which the Sunday Express understands has since been sold.
The Sunday Express shared a text message exchange with the Prime Minister yesterday.
Sunday Express: Do you think it’s unfair that attention will be drawn because its you (the Prime Minister) purchasing the car?
Persad-Bissessar: “Smiley-face” symbol.
Persad-Bissessar: It is not unusual for a PM to access a facility which is lawfully available. As it is not unusual for MPs to do so. Nor for ministers to do so.