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JAMAICA | Ruel Reid's US$3,800 credit card was authorised by the Finance Ministry

Featured Minister with responsibility for Education and House Leader Karl Samuda Minister with responsibility for Education and House Leader Karl Samuda
KINGSTON, Jamaica July 24, 2019 - Minister with responsibility for Education, Karl Samuda yesterday startled the Parliament with the news that a credit card was issued to former education minister Ruel Reid with a limit of US$3,800. He said that the card was to be used for payment for petrol, some hotel charges, book charges and air travel related matters.

Samuda who was responding to questions from Opposition Spokesman on Education the Rev. Ronald Thwaites which had been tabled in the house, assured the House of Representatives that he will seek more details on the controversial credit card which was issued to the former minister Ruel Reid by the ministry.

Samuda, the Leader of the House, in response to a question from the Leader of the Opposition, Dr Peter Phillips, said that  was not aware of any practice on the part of the current administration to provide ministers with credit cards.

Former education minister Ronald Thwaites suggested this was not necessary, declaring that  he was not issued with a credit card when he held the portfolio, said these expenses are normally covered by the ministry directly. 
 
"They are never discretionary, they all have to go through the proper channels. It's people's money you're dealing with you know; and the permanent secretary has quite appropriate protocols for ensuring that the minster is never embarrassed but that he's never given the temptation to be extravagant, let alone to be corrupt," he insisted. 
 
Mr. Thwaites said he will be demanding further answers on what Mr. Reid's credit card was used for, whether its limits were observed and whether there has been proper accounting for all the expenses attributed to it.

Speaker of the House, Pearnel Charles Snr indicated that he had never been aware of cabinet ministers being offered credit cards to pay their bills.

Responding to a question posed by Dr Phillips as to whether he was aware that the ministry's guidelines prohibits ministers from being issued credit cards and whether there was a breakdown in communications which led to Reid being issued one, Samuda insisted that the card could not have been given to the minister without the advice of someone with authority within the ministry.

“So I cannot venture into why or the method by which it was acquired,” Samuda told the Opposition Leader.

Samuda said that he did not have any more details as to who issued the card or who is responsible for payment of the debts, as it was just recently brought to his attention.

“I do not have the details…and I am not in a position to guide you any further on the matter,” he told Phillips.

A 2009 circular from the Ministry of Finance states that a credit card should only be issued to Ministers of Government, Permanent Secretaries, Heads of Departments and Chief Executive Officers of  Executive Agencies and Public Bodies. It sets a J$250,000 limit for local cards and US$2,500 on international cards. However Reid's card had a US$3,800 limit.
 
Speaking at a Post-Cabinet media briefing Wednesday morning, Dr. Grace McLean, (Acting) Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, said the Ministry of Finance approved the credit card given to Mr. Reid.
 
Drt. McLean said  she "would not have been the person who led that process," but she would have to do her research and "provide the information accordingly."
 
  • Countries: Jamaica

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