Two vehicles operated by the Protocol Office were purchased during the People’s Progressive Movement Administration.
On Tuesday, former Cabinet Minister Arden McLean confirmed statements made by Leader of Government Business McKeeva Bush last week about when the two vehicles were purchased.
Mr. Bush said rumours that the new United Democratic Party government had purchased the vehicles for some $250,000 were not true.
He said the purchase for one of the vehicles being used by the protocol office was set up in April by the PPM administration.
‘The other vehicle, a white Ford Expedition, was brought in for Arden McLean,’ Mr. Bush said. ‘He had that in his ministry.’
That vehicle has been turned over to the Protocol Office, Mr. Bush said.
Mr. McLean said the vehicle was purchased for his ministry back in 2006 or 2007.
‘It was bought for the ministry to visit projects and the like, and to share it with [the Protocol Office],’ he said. ‘I didn’t use it personally, except to visit projects with ministry staff.’
Mr. McLean said the vehicle was also used to transport visiting ministers of works from Dominica and St. Kitts.
When commenting about the vehicle, Mr. Bush noted that it had sirens and lights. Mr. McLean confirmed that the vehicle was indeed outfitted with emergency equipment like sirens, lights and a transmitting radio, but he said that his ministry staff had ordered those features.
‘It was for hurricanes or emergencies like that,’ he said, adding that he didn’t even know the vehicle had those features until ministry staff showed them to him.
Mr. McLean also confirmed that the PPM administration ordered the other vehicle now being used by the Protocol Office. But he defended the decision, saying the Cayman Islands should have vehicles for the Protocol Office.
He noted that with the establishment of the Protocol Office, the government was trying to develop procedures of how to deal with visiting dignitaries.
‘Government has to have vehicles to drive dignitaries around and for official business,’ he said. ‘You go to other places, and they have vehicles for these purposes. Part of government is protocol.’
The two vehicles have the licence plate numbers PO01 and PO02, the latter of which is on the vehicle that came from the Ministry of Works. Mr. McLean said he had nothing to do with the plate numbers.
‘I think the Protocol Office changed that,’ he said
The vehicle with the licence plate number PO01 is now being used to drive Mr. Bush, something the premier designate defended as part of the new protocols created by the passage of the referendum on the constitution in May.
Mr. Bush said there were costs involved in getting a new constitution and in having a premier, and that was one of the reasons he voted no in the referendum.
He accused PPM members of trying to create controversy over the protocol vehicles when it was their administration that spent the money and used the vehicles to their advantage while they were in office.