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Private sector blasts Gov't over police vehicle controversy - Demands greater accountability in the procurement system

Published:Thursday | November 30, 2017 | 12:00 AMChristopher Serju
Richard Pandohie
Howard Mitchell

Two powerful sector groups - the Jamaica Manufacturers' Association (JMA) and the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) - have blasted the Government for what they consider incompetence and lack of accountability to taxpayers, which was highlighted in the recent controversy surrounding the failure of a contractor to deliver 200 pre-owned motor vehicles to the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) in spite of receiving a 50 per cent deposit.

"We're disappointed, very disappointed. When you consider that crime is one of our biggest issues at this point in time, to see the incompetence surrounding the acquisition of important resources for the police force, it's just very shocking for me, really," Richard Pandohie, deputy president of the JMA told The Gleaner yesterday.

"Some serious questions need to be asked, and some consequences need to be brought to bear. This is not just a matter of money being lost. It is lives being lost and to hear that the bidder overlooked the taxes, and the procurement committee valuating the bid clearly overlooked it, it begs a lot of questions."

He added, "You have to question the due diligence that was done in terms of the financial capabilities of these persons because clearly, something is wrong. The bid document calls for 90 days' delivery time. It is now over 300 days, and only 30 vehicles have been delivered out of 200. So it has to be more than just the cost. The capability to acquire the vehicles and deliver them must be a part of it."

The PSOJ is insisting that in addition to the validity of the procurement process, the technical evaluation process used in determining the awarding of the contract must also come under the microscope.

"It also calls to attention the possible lack of proper supervision of this process by the responsible parties at the Ministry of National Security who had primary responsibility. The PSOJ finds it unacceptable that after there was so much concern raised when these vehicles were being ordered, that there are still issues surrounding delivery time and the suitability of the vehicles for the JCF," the PSOJ said in a release.

"Further, we cannot accept that no proper due diligence seemed to have been done on the ability of the selected supplier to deliver the vehicles in a timely manner and that they would have the requisite financing available and show evidence of their ability to supply the vehicles."

PSOJ president Howard Mitchell is of the view that the situation is serious enough to warrant the immediate and full attention of Prime Minister Andrew Holness.

"We support the intervention of the OCG (Office of the Contractor General) but believe that the prime minister should not wait on the outcome of that review to do his own investigations and hold the appropriate persons accountable, given the magnitude of the situation. We also hold the view that it is necessary for the responsible minister to publicly provide clarity on this issue so that there can be full transparency as we move forward with the investigations," said Mitchell.