ST. JOHN’S: The government has denied a media report that the fleet of vehicles used by newly elected Prime Minister Gaston Browne was being replaced.
In a brief statement, the Office of the Permanent Secretary within the Office of the Prime Minister said it had been made aware of the incorrect report and that it wanted “to place on record that this assertion is incorrect and can only be viewed as an effort to mislead the public”.
It said that following the June 12 general election, “as is customary and in accordance with internationally accepted protocols, in the interest of the Prime Minister’s health and safety, an assessment was made of the current fleet of vehicles available for his use.
“A number of the vehicles were discovered to be defective with inoperable windows, air conditioning, steering, shocks and suspension systems and infested with pests, including ants and cockroaches.”
The statement said that preparations were put in place to have the defective vehicles replaced with vehicles already in use by the Transport Board, which would not have incurred any additional expenditure by the government, insisting “no new vehicles would have been acquired”.
The statement noted that after Browne was informed of the issues with the vehicles he “instructed the Permanent Secretary that it is his desire not to have the defective vehicles replaced, reducing the number of vehicles used by the former prime minister from six to three.
“The decision of Prime Minister Browne to decrease his fleet of vehicles is in keeping with his administration’s policy of reducing the excesses of government including the use of police officers as personal aides of ministers including the Prime Minister.”
The statement said that it is “unfortunate” that the media house “did not seek clarification from the Office of the Permanent Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office on the matter before conveying inaccurate information to the public.
“This is not only irresponsible journalism…but also places the Prime Minister and his protective team’s security at risk.”