PLP Leader Philip 'Brave' Davis.
By AVA TURNQUEST
Tribune Chief Reporter
OPPOSITION Leader Philip Davis yesterday questioned the focus of Auditor General Terrence Bastian’s report into the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, suggesting the recently tabled document was an extension of the political narrative espoused by the Minnis administration.
“What’s the cry about? It’s another narrative to make it appear that the Progressive Liberal Party is doing something wrong,” Mr Davis said yesterday.
“I don’t know why the Auditor General is weighing in on a company having a licence or if they are competent to execute a transaction, I don’t know that is in their ambit unless there was something else untoward in regard to the contract.
“I don’t understand the Auditor General weighing in on whether a person should have a licence or not, what does that have to do with an audit of expenditure funds? The question is whether they got value for money, was the process flawed in any way in the sense that what we got was not what we actually wanted.”
The audit report covers the period July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2015, and found that a 2014 procurement exercise posed a threat to the safety and security of Bahamian borders by awarding a $1.3 million contract to a home-based company that did not have the necessary approvals to import weapons from the Royal Bahamas Police Force.
Mr Bastian’s report was tabled in the House of Assembly on Wednesday and also outlined concerns over irregularities in salary payments and promotions.
In a later interview with The Tribune, National Security Minister Marvin Dames expressed confidence in the procurement process, noting there were some discrepancies in the report.
“We ought not to jump to conclusions over these audit reports,” Mr Davis said.
“My recollection of these matters is that you’re talking about purchasing, it would have been guided by technical staff on this. My recollection is that the RBDF would have assessed their needs and having done that they would have gone to an open bid, that means anyone that sees the bid has the opportunity to participate. Once they participate the RBDF will have their procurement protocol that would have assessed the tenders and the bidders and then make a recommendation.”
He continued: “Whatever recommendation they made would be on them as the technical people, they would have sifted through and made the recommendations to the tenders board, an independent body that will then assess the process and decide whether they will agree with recommendation, if they agree it will be passed on to the relevant ministry. Based on the amount it would have come to Cabinet.
“So unless there is something on the face of the process or document - it is very unlikely that a Cabinet will not accept the recommendation of technical people. I don’t know how that became relevant at the end of the day, it’s whether the mandate of the tenders board was carried out, and that the RBDF got value for money and got what they wanted.”
In a statement yesterday, PLP Chairman and Senator Fred Mitchell urged party supporters not to adopt that narrative or become distracted by the report, which he predicted will prove to be “more prejudicial than probative” once full details were aired.
“The auditor general has a history of going off halfcocked,” his statement read.
Mr Bastian drew the ire of the former Christie administration last term, notably for his audits of the Urban Renewal programme and the Road Traffic Department.