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Gov't facing more pressure over controversial police car contract

Published:Monday | December 11, 2017 | 11:23 AM
O'Brien's International Car Sales and Rental Services.

The Opposition is piling more pressure on the Government over the controversial contract awarded to O'Brien's International Car Sales and Rental Services to source used vehicles for the police.

In a statement released last night, Opposition spokesman Mikael Phillips questioned Friday's announcement that the Cabinet has instructed the National Security Minister to formally write to General Accident Insurance Company Limited to request payment of the performance bond put up by O'Brien's.

According to Phillips, this is a new twist, as the National Security Minister Robert Montague had reported in Parliament last Tuesday that the ministry had already called the bond.

The Opposition spokesman also said the decision by the government to withdraw the moratorium granted to O’Brien’s to clear some 66 vehicles from the wharf has blighted the possibility for the cars to be delivered any time soon.

The vehicles have been sitting on the wharf because O'Brien's could not come up the $40 million to pay the required Special Consumption Tax and General Consumption Tax.

Instead, it wrote to the National Security Ministry asking that it pays the taxes since this expense was not including in the bid.

The National Security Ministry refused, however, the Finance Ministry worked out an arrangement for the Customs Department to allow the importer until May next year to pay off the requisite taxes.

Amid the controversy over the granting of this moratorium, the Cabinet had a special meeting on Friday where, on the advice of the attorney general, the offer for the moratorium was withdrawn.

Phillips says the decision to call the bond and withdraw the moratorium signals that the government does not take seriously, the issue of police mobility despite the skyrocketing murder rate. 

The $400 million contract to O'Brien's was to purchase 200 used vehicles including pickups.

However, only about 30 have been so far delivered.