By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
PLP chairman Bradley Roberts yesterday called for the Public Accounts Committee to investigate the Free National Movement’s decision in 2007 to cancel the request for proposal process for the modernisation of the Road Traffic Department.
Mr Roberts, in a statement, said the PAC “must call for persons and papers to get to the bottom of the cancellation of the finalised request for proposal (RFP) process in 2007 among other critical procedural and administrative issues at the department.”
Mr Roberts also questioned the “structure and format” of Auditor General Terrence Bastian’s report into the Road Traffic Department’s (RTD) internal operations, charging that it “fails to reference the findings and recommendations of the previous audit conducted during the watch of the FNM.”
Mr Roberts’ statement came in response to a press release by FNM Chairman Sidney Collie about an audit that revealed millions in losses from the Road Traffic Department (RTD) due to employees and motorists “circumventing rules and regulations.”
Transport and Aviation Minister Glenys Hanna Martin has suggested that the issues at the RTD, though “age-old” in nature, were likely further exacerbated due to the previous Ingraham administration’s decision in 2007 to cancel the RFP process initiated by the PLP in which a firm was selected in principle from eight proposals to implement an automated motor vehicle and driver’s license system.
Weighing in on the issue last week, Mr Roberts had called for the matter to be “turned over to police” for a full investigation. Mr Collie responded on Monday by saying that while Mr Roberts was “following the FNM’s lead” in calling for a police investigation, he, nor the PLP, is “taking any responsibility for the total waste and complete disregard of the people’s trust”.
In response, Mr Roberts charged on Monday that the FNM’s cancellation of the RFP process upon coming into office in 2007 is a “causal factor in the ongoing weak controls and instances of fraud that were cited in the auditor general’s report”.
As such, Mr Roberts called on the FNM to “answer to the Bahamian people” for allowing the RFP process to become a victim of the previous Ingraham administration’s “infamous, ignoble and failed stop, review and cancel policy”.
He added: “The FNM cannot get away with making horrible decisions, walking away from them without accountability and believe that they can cloud the issue and muddy the water through mudslinging and name calling.”
Mr Roberts then went on to question Mr Bastian’s report, charging that it “fails to reference the findings and recommendations of the previous audit conducted during the watch of the FNM”.
“Further, there is no record in the report of the policy and administrative steps the FNM government took to address the week internal controls and susceptibility of the RTD during their watch,” Mr Roberts said. “The RTD did not come into existence in July of 2012. These are deficiencies that the auditor general must immediately correct.”
The audit, covering the period July 1, 2012, to June 30, 2015, was tabled in the House of Assembly last week. It focused on vehicle license revenue, license plate revenue and payroll processing.
Aside from revealing an estimated $47m in vehicle license revenue losses, the report also highlighted several other instances of apparent fraud and “collusion” involving inspectors, writers and cashiers as they carried out daily tasks.