Used Car Scandal worsens as cars are still undelivered
Kingston, Jamaica, December 9, 2017: The decision by the Andrew Holness cabinet to withdraw the moratorium granted to O’brien’s International Car Sales and Rental services to supply used cars to the police force, further deepens the scandalous saga and blights any possibility of the police having access to the vehicles any time soon.
In a statement to the media, the People’s National Party (PNP) said the cabinet’s decision to instruct the Ministry of National Security to formally write the General Accident Insurance Co. Ltd. to request payment of the Performance Bond is a new twist as the Minister announced in Parliament on Tuesday that his Ministry had already called the bond. Contrary to Cabinet expectations that payment of the Bond will be expedited to enable the Ministry of National Security to use the Bonds proceeds to pay all necessary taxes and duties, the process will now be entangled in legal argument. So far from expediting the clearance of the vehicles, a court battle now looms.
The PNP says the cabinet should not pretend that the decision to call the bond and use the funds to pay the duties is a victory, it is rather a clear indication that this contractor was not capable of meeting the terms stipulated in the agreement.
It is clear evidence that the security Ministry had done no due diligence examination of the supplier and that this contractor was selected for reasons outside of what is required under the established government procurement guidelines.
Prime Minister Holness and his cabinet also took a decision to amend the guidelines to included fit and proper criteria for suppliers’ of national security purchases. Surely, the cabinet must know that this is already provided for in the National Contracts Commission Registration process. Clause 3 of the Approved Suppliers Agreement further provides for a four year disqualification of suppliers who deliberately provide the NCC with false information. The Cabinet now needs to state whether O’brien’s International Car Sales and Rental is NCC registered and whether one of the directors declared that he was a drug offence deportee.
The Party says this cabinet cannot be trusted to act in the interest of the people of Jamaica and the fumbles and blunders of the Minister of National Security in securing basic and critical resources as motor vehicles for the police force in an environment of rampant murder, is a clear demonstration of the government’s ineptitude.
“This government is rewarding the incompetence of the leadership of the Ministry of National Security. First it awarded a major contract without proper due diligence, then sat idly by as the contractor breached the terms of the contract over and over again and now it is taking the taxpayer for a ride. Andrew Holness and his cabinet are under estimating the intelligence of the Jamaican people.“ Public Accounts and Appropriations Committee of House of Parliament (PAAC) member Mikael Phillips said.
He said based on what was outlined to the PAAC meeting two weeks ago, the contract with O’brien’s stipulates that the contractor would be responsible for any taxes and duties. This cabinet decision to call the bond and withdraw the moratorium granted by the Minister of Finance signal that the government does not take the issue of police mobility seriously, despite the skyrocketing murder rate.
Mr. Phillips says the contract must be rescinded and all the funds returned to the people of Jamaica. He said the matter must be treated with seriousness as the country cannot afford to be left in a bind and with a debt it need not have incurred.
In the meantime, he is urging government to act quickly in increasing the mobility of the force, but do so within the framework of the government procurement guidelines. Consequently, the Minister must now update the country on where will the 119 vehicles promised to the police before Christmas come from, since it must now be clear that the 66 on the wharf will not be available.