The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) yesterday heard that in 2008, the Ministry of Education sought the services of Action Tyre to supply a piece of equipment that cost $10.545 million, but to date it has not been received.
Newly-appointed Permanent Secretary (PS) of that ministry, Vibert Welch, made this disclosure and said that the matter engaged the attention of the court. According to former PS of that ministry, Delma Nedd – who was a part of the delegation – when samples of the equipment were supplied they did not conform to what was expected, hence it was rejected.
She explained that the company was paid in full to supply the item, and it was for this reason that the court became involved in the matter. The court subsequently ruled in favour of the supplier and the ministry was left out of pocket.
Reading from a court document, Nedd informed that the decisions taken by the court were based on some key factors. She said that the court found that no agreement was entered into for the supply of the equipment, neither was there any clear description of what should have been provided.
It was revealed that a notice of appeal has since been filed, as the ministry seeks to recover the amount. It was the view of PAC member Charandass Persaud that the appeal was not filed within the stipulated time frame.
Another PAC member, Juan Edghill, enquired if there was a performance bond that formed part of the contractual arrangement with the supplier, and he was advised that this was not the case.
All this time, none of the Ministry of Education officials could testify as to the nature of the equipment. However, according to one of the officials, the equipment was meant to be used by the Government Technical Institute (GTI).
PAC chairman Irfaan Ali said that the ministry should have been in a position to tell the PAC what the item(s) was or were, since they knew they were appearing before the PAC.
PS Welch did not escape the candour of Ali who expressed disappointment that he (Welch) had to be constantly seeking answers from his delegation, since he was unaware of many of the issues that were being ventilated.
It was Ali’s view that such an approach does not project a positive image of him as the accounting officer of that agency. Ali said that too many times individuals are showing up at PAC unprepared, and he asked that the financial secretary note the performances of those that are appearing before the committee.
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