By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
The Opposition’s deputy leader yesterday said it was “inconceivable” that a project such as BAMSI had not been subject to proper oversight, calling it “unacceptable” that taxpayers may be exposed to $3 million in additional costs as a result of the fire-damaged dormitory.
K P Turnquest, the east Grand Bahama MP, told Tribune Business it was unfair for taxpayers to have to foot the bill for the additional costs without the necessary controls on government spending, plus basic internal checks to ensure that value is received for the money invested.
“It’s inconceivable to think that a project of this magnitude would not have had proper oversight from the Ministry of Works, and that they would have ensured that all of the documents are in place prior to the granting of that contract,” said Mr Turnquest.
“If you ask the Bahamian people to dig into their pockets for more money without the requisite controls on spending, and the basic internal controls to ensure that you get value for money, that is unacceptable.
“We ought not allow it slide by. Someone ought to be held accountable. We have to ensure that these types of circumstances do not happen again; that the Bahamian people are made to fully understand what has happened and how we are going to correct it.”
Mr Turnquest’s comments came after Deputy Prime Minister Philip Davis admitted in the House of Assembly that the Ministry of Works breached established procedures by advancing the first contract mobilisation payment to the dormitory contractor, Audley Hanna, without having proof he had obtained insurance for the project.
The reconstruction costs have been estimated at $5.5 million, with the $2.55 million balance something the Government will attempt to reclaim from Mr Hanna.
“When we ask the Bahamian people for more, we ought to be more accountable and more transparent, especially in this age. We must ensure that every dime and every penny is being properly accounted for,” said Mr Turnquest.
“This is complete negligence. If the Bahamian people are going to be asked to pick up another $3 million, that is unacceptable. That’s poor planning and poor execution. I don’t see how the Bahamian people can be expected to pick that up.
“There is a procedure in place, as I understand it, and the politicians ought to stay the hell out of it and allow the system to work. If we allow the tenders board and the professionals to do their work I’m sure that we can get a quality product.”