By Bradley Roberts
It was a long time in coming but the government of The Bahamas is doing the right thing in eliminating the archaic paper intensive processes at the Road Traffic Department and replacing this regime with a 21stcentury automated system that is less susceptible to fraud and lends itself to greater operational efficiency, cost effectiveness, accountability and transparency.
The recent audit of that public account by the office of the Auditor General proves this.
I however call on the office of the Auditor General to provide the public with greater clarity on the criterion used to arrive at the huge figure of $47 million in operating losses due to “a severe lack or order” at the department among other cited deficiencies. I am of the view that in light of the huge losses incurred at the department that this matter must be turned over to the police for a full investigation and let the chips fall where they may. The Bahamian tax payer deserves that much because after all, the losses incurred were tax dollars and more importantly, public confidence in our public institutions is at stake here.
I further note that similar management systems and processes are being upgraded and updated to 21stcentury standards at the Department of Social Services with the R.I.S.E. program; at the office of the Registrar General, the National Insurance Board and the Ministry of Finance in response to the IDB audit. These positive steps promise to improve the delivery of public goods and services, streamline the operations, reduce operating costs, build public confidence in our public institutions while creating a greater level of accountability and transparency. The government is to be commended for these initiatives.
Concerning the politics of this issue, the public is well aware that these operational deficiencies existed for many years at that department and in the public service so there is no need for MP Neko Grant to attempt to dodge culpability and responsibility in this matter. The behavior of former Parliamentary Secretary and former MP Brensil Rolle came into question and under great public scrutiny while he was attached to the Road Traffic Department. Further, the FNM had five years in their last term to clean up this mess and did not see their way to doing so in the public interest. As a matter of fact the very same automation project that the Hon. Glenys Hanna-Martin is currently executing was canceled by the last FNM administration for unknown and undisclosed reasons but now Dr. Hubert Minnis and Loretta Butler-Turner are conveniently calling for strong action to be taken on this matter. Where were they between 2007 and 2012 when strong action needed to be taken? Wonders never cease! It took the PLP’s return to office in 2012 to decisively address these vexing issues at the department in the public’s interest.
While I fully accept that there are challenges and deficiencies at the department and that the government is addressing the same, the public interest will be greater served however if the Auditor General would be so kind as to provide greater clarity to the public on the criterion used to arrive at the huge financial losses incurred by the department.
The affected public servants, the general public and I await the Auditor General’s response.