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EDITORIAL: BMW purchase bad optics as many struggle

A photograph of a receipt caused a stir on social media at the weekend – a receipt for a car for the Prime Minister.

Was this genuine, more than one person asked The Tribune. In this age of deep fakes and Photoshop, not everything can be taken at face value. There was no signature on the document, though that did not mean it was not real. But our reporters set about making inquiries to see.

Also circulating in the wake of the receipt was a story claiming that a permanent secretary had been transferred because of a row over the purchase of the vehicle.

Again, inquiries were made, and the outcome is some truth, some untruth.

Yes, the receipt was real, for a $192,000 BMW vehicle to replace the previous vehicle bought in 2011. We’ll come more to that shortly.

The second part, about permanent secretary David Davis? Not so much, it seems.

Speaking to reporters yesterday, acting press secretary Keishla Adderley said: “No truth to the assertion that the permanent secretary who was previously linked to this office was removed for anything to do with the purchase of the vehicle. That’s absolutely false.”

Even before the acting press secretary spoke, a number of people privately spoke to The Tribune to reject the idea that Mr Davis might have done anything with regards to such a purchase that could have led to a transfer – he was described by several people as someone who would adhere to the due process in such a matter.

Given the story that was circulating – distinctly different from what The Tribune heard both in private and from the Office of the Prime Minister – it shows the danger in such speculative commentary.

It is important to get the facts right to tell the proper story.

And what is worse, from the commentary surrounding the purchase, is that such scuttlebutt serves to obscure the real talking point about the car.

The previous car, we are told, was bought in 2011 for $300,000, so around $23,000 a year in costs in that time. If, as the acting press secretary speculated, this new car lasts ten years, that will be a comparable amount of $20,000 a year.

There is some uncertainty about another vehicle, that will serve in rotation with this one, but the obvious challenge is that this represents bad optics for a government that admits to large numbers of people in poverty and in need of assistance, struggling with inflation and meeting their bills to then have the government spending on a new car just short of $200,000.

When the government recently took to reallocating $25,000 from a disabilities commission to fund an Obie Wilchcombe memorial but then spends that amount of money on a car, it is easy to raise an eyebrow.

Ultimately, though, the Prime Minister needs a vehicle – be it Mr Davis or his future successors – and it needs to be of a caliber appropriate to the role. That $20,000 a year budget towards the next car should simply be a line item always there to pay for the next one, albeit with some discussion about the final price tag.

There is that danger, always, though of seeming disconnected from the struggles of the people when they see the price tag of the car you’re driving away from them in, complete with police outriders and all. But that is a different price tag for our leaders to bear.

Comments

birdiestrachan 4 months ago

The car was old over 10 years it could not even have comphresive insurance the Bible says the poor will always be with us . The editorial is no surprise a mistake was made they did not ask Pintard what kind of car they should have bought

Porcupine 4 months ago

So the bible says the poor will always be with us, birdie, Could that possibly mean to a thinking Christian that we will always have work to do, to take care of our brothers and sisters? Does it say we should get used to it? Turn our backs as we do now? Illiterate people who claim to "read and comprehend" the bible, and then pontificate about said bible, are as dangerous as any devil.

stillwaters 4 months ago

Brave is now totally convinced that he is royalty after only a few years in power.

stillwaters 4 months ago

'It is important to get the facts right to tell the proper story.' Tribune, take your own advice and stop aiding cover-ups.

Porcupine 4 months ago

Isn't "bad optics" the same as bad reality? What's the difference?

birdiestrachan 4 months ago

Oh the smarty pants quick to say who is illeteral and who is not try this a pofessor went to a island the poor island boy rowed the boat the pofessor bragged about his education some reason the boat turned over. The young boy could swim the boy said to the pofessor you no swim

TalRussell 4 months ago

Well, sounds like the Tribune is attempting to describe how sometimes it has to do with. ---- Look at me on top of a colony's popoulaces  that comes from being chauffeured about in a USD$300,000 + Vat, motor car vs settling behind the wheel in a "Pop" Symonette Ford Falcon. --- Eventually, most motor cars' popularity and values will go downhill. --- Same can be said for those connected to the politics of governance..--- Good Day! ---Yes?

sheeprunner12 3 months, 3 weeks ago

The PM needs a state car. Stop the nonsense.

The PF gets 100 new vehicles every year at around $1 million and they are crashed, shot up & banged up as well. Do we complain about that, too?

The DF get $100 million of boats & drones and many are run aground or laid up for repairs while the smugglers and poachers still move freely Do we complain about that, too??

What about all of the Ministers cars and SOEs cars??? The free gas & diesel for each of them, plus all of the mechanic servicing etc???

It's big business & kickbacks for the PEPs. That's how we roll in the 242.

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