Kingston, Jamaica, November 30, 2017: Revelations of gross misuse of public funds and breaches of government procurement guidelines at yesterday’s meeting of the Public Administration and Appropriations Committee of House of Representatives (PAAC) raise serious and profound issues of poor accountability and probity within the government, which the Prime Minister must immediately address.
In a statement this afternoon, the Leader of the Opposition, Dr. Peter Phillips, said in light of the serious nature of these issues, the Prime Minister must urgently call for a forensic audit of the administration and payments made by the National Security Ministry under the $426.9m contract with O’Brien’s Car Sales and Rental and account to the country for the $213 million which was reported to have already been paid to the company as a deposit for the provision of 200 used vehicles for the Jamaica Constabulary Force.
The Opposition Leader is also seeking the intervention of the Contractor General and the Auditor General in light of what appears to be clear breaches of the government procurement guidelines, the repeated failure of the Minister of National Security to answer questions put to him in Parliament and his gross dereliction of his duties as a Minister. This has led to failed policies which are causing the police to face an increase in violent crime and murder without adequate resources to address it.
The Opposition Leader said the Prime Minister should immediately relieve the Minister of his duties, if the country is to have any confidence in the government’s determination and ability to fight crime.
Dr. Phillips said Minister Montague cannot escape culpability, as the used car decision was his personal initiative and at the time of announcement was aimed at providing the JCF with a ratio of four pre-owned vehicles to one new vehicle. “The country has now paid out $213 million to a contractor and yet has only thirty (30) used Toyota Axio cars, which do not meet JCF specifications, to show for it. Where has the money gone?” The Opposition Leader queries.
Dr. Phillips said it is not acceptable for the Ministry of Finance to absorb additional costs and break its own procurement guidelines and the terms of the supply contract by providing waivers for General Consumption Tax (GCT), Special Consumption Tax (SCT) as well as for shipping and customs clearance delays charges, which were to be borne by the supplier.
It is clear that this contract has gone sour and it appears that the contractor does not have the ability to deliver. It is the taxpayers of Jamaica who will get the bitter end of the stick as millions of taxpayers’ dollars have not been accounted for and the police are without cars while innocent Jamaicans are shot and killed on the streets and in their homes at the rate of more than one every four hours. The Opposition is not going to stand for this.
Dr. Phillips said the contract must be immediately terminated and the government use the emergency procurement procedures to get a reputable supplier to provide the much-needed vehicles to improve police mobility.