Jamaica Gleaner / National Integrity Action (NIA) has charged that the Government’s procurement procedures in the award of a contract to O’Brien’s International Car Sales and Rentals Limited appeared to have been compromised, either through incompetence or lack of due diligence.
In a release yesterday, the corruption watchdog recommended that the situation be placed in the hands of the Office of the Contractor General and the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency, with the prime minister providing “watchful oversight”.
“The people of Jamaica deserve no less and urgent action can no longer be put off against a background of long-standing and disgraceful waste of taxpayers’ money and improper public spending,” NIA executive director, Professor Trevor Munroe, declared.
Comedy of errors
He said that the NIA noted with alarm the continuing saga in which O’Brien’s has failed to procure the 200 pre-owned vehicles for the active fleet of the Jamaica Constabulary Force.
“This situation could be described as a comedy of errors, were the matter not so serious and were not taxpayers’ money and police efficiency at risk. It has been appropriately deemed a ‘scandalous mess’,” Munroe asserted.
“Outrage at this failure of the contractor to deliver the vehicles required, after having been paid half the total sum of $426.9m, is being expressed by organisations and the general public,” he added.
He said that the NIA was also surprised that although the Ministry of National Security had initially told the contractor that his request for general consumption tax and special consumption tax for Customs clearance was not considered favourably, it sent the request to the finance ministry for a waiver, which the finance ministry rejected.
Questions about suitability
Munroe also raised questions about the suitability of the vehicles acquired, noting that the tender requirements were not adhered to.
Yesterday, the Ministry of National Security said that it was taking steps to redeem the performance bond on the multimillion-dollar contract to supply used vehicles for the police force, in light of the failure of the supplier to deliver the units on time.
Speaking on Power 106’s ‘Independent Talk’ yesterday, head of procurement at the ministry, Milton Morrison, said steps had been made last Friday to redeem the $42.7-million bond that was paid by O’Brien’s International as part of the requirements for obtaining the contract.
Morrison said the security ministry should receive the money this week.