On Friday, Minister of State Joseph Harmon took time to address the National Assembly on the contents of a newspaper article on bullet proof vehicles which he labelled “erroneous” and “mischievous.”
The article which appeared in the Friday edition of the Guyana Times was headlined “$100 million allocated for bulletproof vehicles purchased on credit.”
The contents of the article are sourced to Opposition Member of Parliament Juan Edghill who is currently serving a four-session suspension. It is alleged that in 2017 government purchased five new bullet proof vehicles despite there being no corresponding allocation. As such the article concludes that government made purchases on credit and is now attempting to cover this irregularity.
Harmon however told the House that such a statement is erroneous and misleading.
“The article in itself is at best mischievous and seeks to insinuate the existence of corrupt practices devoid of accountability and transparency as reported by a member of this house on suspension, Juan Edghill [while] in truth and in fact at no time since this Government came into office was the Ministry allocated $100 million under line item 2405200-land transport for the purchase of vehicles,” he explained.
The Minister stated that his Ministry had inherited an aged fleet of vehicles to the extent that on more than one occasion the VIP cars in the Presidential and Prime Ministerial fleet developed mechanical problems while being used.
As a result “the Administration took a firm decision to phase out the old and aged vehicles over a period of time, in addition to purchasing reconditioned and/or new VIP vehicles to complement the President’s fleet and to be used exclusively for state visits of other Heads of State.”
Allocations were made for these purchases in the 2016, 2017 and 2018 Budgets and vehicles purchased with 2016 budgetary allocation have been delivered and are in the possession of the Ministry of the Presidency. Harmon stressed that those vehicles are in no way bullet proof, as stated in the article.
Of the $53.8 million allocated for vehicles 53.5 million was spent. In this year three reconditioned Toyota Crowns, two reconditioned Toyota Primos, four motorcycles and two Toyota Prados were purchased. For 2017 22.5 million was allocated with which 1 Toyota Crown was bought, one reconditioned Toyota Allion, one reconditioned Toyota Primo while in 2018, 48.2 million has been allocated for two new Toyota Crowns and 6 reconditioned motorcars. Beharry Automotive is the sole supplier of these vehicles
“As can be seen from these allocations there is no purchase of bullet proof vehicles and at no occasion was a $100 million allocated,” Harmon told the House.