November 2, 2007
Prime Minister clears air on official vehicle

There are persons in this country who have been placed under special, prime ministerial security arrangements, because they are dealing with money laundering matters for the Government.{{more}}

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves made this disclosure as he gave information in Parliament last Tuesday, October 30, on the purchase of his new official vehicle, a black Volvo SUV.

He said that the special security arrangements which have been made were done without even the knowledge of his Cabinet colleagues.

He noted that security and safety concerns are the reasons why the Commissioner of Police had ordered that his entourage include two other vehicles, besides the one he is in, when he is being transported.

Speaking about the vehicle, Dr Gonsalves said that he found it demeaning that he had to explain the circumstances surrounding the vehicle’s purchase in “a civilized country in the 21st century.”

He explained that following the accident last Easter Monday, in which he and his driver Sergeant Zaccheus Paris sustained injuries, the Toyota Prada SUV, registered G 7, was written off.

He said that the vehicle had been insured for only $90,000, because the duty which was not paid was not factored into the insured amount.

This was, however, factored into the settlement by the insurance company of the truck with which the Prime Minister’s vehicle collided.

Dr Gonsalves said that the government received $145,000 for the destroyed vehicle and added a further $27,000 to purchase the Volvo.

He explained that the Volvo was deemed to be the safest and strongest of SUVs on the road by the Transport and Safety

Board of the United States, the reason why the Ministry of National Security and the Office of the Prime Minister invested in it.

He said he had nothing to do with the choice of vehicle. (KJ)