By EARYEL BOWLEG and JADE RUSSELL
Tribune Staff Reporters
THE deputy chairman of the Consumer Protection Commission claims improper practices led the government to choose the agency’s new rental space, a claim Economic Affairs Minister Michael Halkitis denied yesterday.
Tyrone “Rock” Morris, who the Davis administration appointed CPC deputy chairman last year, claims the government is paying too much money to rent the CPC’s new space off Tonique Williams Darling Highway and that the facility is owned by someone connected to the Progressive Liberal Party.
Mr Halkitis dismissed him as disgruntled yesterday, but the government has not provided details of the process surrounding the selection.
Mr Morris claims the cost is at least $50k per month –- a claim The Tribune could not independently verify and that government officials deny without specifying the cost.
“I am the deputy chairman,” Mr Morris said on Monday. “I don’t know anything about what’s been done. This particular board has removed me from the communications process that we have in place and the board is meeting without me as the deputy chair. The bottom line is that the whole process is corrupted.”
“We were looking around, right, and we going to make a recommendation because we had a number of buildings that we were looking at, and we would have wanted to entertain any number of bids in regards to it. That’s the way it is done. That’s how you get competitive bids and that’s how you will know that it’s not your cousin, your uncle, your auntie or some friends or sweetheart who you’re giving the job to.”
“They are spending the people’s money without due process and, to me, it is wrong, it’s corrupted, and it needs to be exposed. And if what I’m saying is not correct, tell them to show the Bahamian people the lease agreement.”
On Monday, a ceremony opening the building which houses the CPC and the Consumer Affairs Unit was held.
The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) interviewed Mr Morris last week.
Free National Movement Chairman Michael Pintard said the PAC interviewed CPC chairman Walter Ferguson yesterday.
He said Mr Ferguson could not confirm how much it costs to rent the new space.
He said the owner of the building –– a man he identified as Tilly Burrows –– would be invited for an interview next week. He said a Ministry of Public Services official responsible for rent issues would also be invited.
Before Cabinet’s meeting yesterday, Mr Halkitis told reporters that the process for moving to the new building followed the Ministry of Public Service’s protocols and norms, insisting nothing untoward occurred.
“What we have is a disgruntled individual who has decided that he would make certain allegations,” he claimed. “Boards, committees, ministries, departments do not decide where they want to go. The accommodations are settled by the Ministry of Public Service.”
“I know some figures have been thrown out to say well okay, it’s a lot of money. The square footage that we are paying falls within the range of what the public service pays.”