Letters to the Editor

12 questions on that botched car import deal

Monday, December 04, 2017

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Dear Editor,

There seems to be some tiptoeing around the issue of the botched car import deal involving O'Brien's International Car Sales.

We need investigative journalists to get to the heart of the matter here, so we await a full report by the Office of the Contractor General and, if we are lucky, the intervention by the prime minister.

While the Opposition and the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica have spoken to the matter and have asked some important questions, there are some questions to which answers are urgently needed which should form the basis of a public statement on the matter by Prime Minister Andrew Holness, Minister of National Security Robert “Bobby” Montague, or the Opposition spokesperson on national security Fitz Jackson.

I set out below some questions to which answers would be helpful in the interest of full transparency:

1) Were there other considerations apart from the price of O'Brien's bid that resulted in that company being selected and, if so, what are those considerations?

2) What are the names of the other companies which submitted bids and how do their track records on motor vehicle imports compare with O'Brien's?

3) Did the ministry request a conflict of interest disclosure from members of the Procurement Committee and other senior officials in the ministry (including the minister) concerning their past or present associations with the principal director or other directors of O'Brien's?

4) Was there any conversation outside the Procurement Committee before or after the meeting suggesting that the bid from O'Brien's be selected?

5) More generally, how involved was the minister in the selection process?

6) Did the ministry conduct a due diligence investigation on O'Brien's prior to the granting of the contract and, if so, did it find evidence that raised any concerns about the business competence of the company, connections of its principals to politicians, and careers of the principals and, if so, what were those findings?

7) More specifically, were investigations conducted by the Internal Audit Unit or any other unit in the Ministry of National Security, including visiting the business location of O'Brien's, and if so when were these investigations conducted, what were the findings, and with whom were the findings shared, and when?

8) Did the invitation to tender specify obligations that the successful bidder would have to meet including taxes?

9) Did the ministry conduct any further investigations on the company after the company failed to meet the deadline for the delivery of the vehicles?

10) What are the provisions in the contract for failure to perform, and specifically does the ministry have any means of recovering taxpayers' money if the extended deadline to December is not met?

11) On approximately what date did the ministry become aware that the contractor would not meet the June deadline, and what information did the ministry receive from the contractor which formed the basis of its decision to extend the period for delivery?

12) Was the minister involved in the decision to extend the period for delivery of the vehicles?

Canute Thompson





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