Monday 28 September, 2020

Samuda cites former PNP candidate behind $17m police scanner contract

Government Senator, Matthew Samuda, has pushed back on claims made by Opposition Senator, Lambert Brown that US$135,000 (Ja$17.5 million) was paid to a consultant by the Ministry of National Security in 2016, to procure equipment for the police force - and the sum remains unaccounted for.

Brown made the claim on July 19 while speaking in the Senate.

But according to Samuda, who was speaking in the Senate on Friday (July 26), the consultant was a “two-time candidate for the People’s National Party (PNP),” the party which Brown represents.

Samuda also said that only US$30,000 (Ja$4 million), representing the first tranche of the contract sum, was paid out, and not the US$135,000 that was stated by Brown.

He further claimed that the payment was made in 2018, not 2016, as was stated by Brown.

Brown had told the Senate that the money was to have been used to buy “hand-held x-ray machines” capable of detecting guns in motor vehicles.

“Those machines would allow the police out there to be able to go beside a car and check (to see) if there’s a firearm inside the car.

“That’s 2016 (and) almost 5,000 (people) have been killed, most by the gun since then, and the Ministry of National Security… cannot account for even a single one of those hand-held x-ray machines.

"But US$135,000 has been paid out, and almost three years after, there’s no accountability for it,” Brown asserted.

He told Government senators present that “this is part of the corruption that’s preventing you from fighting crime”.

However, Samuda said he had documentary evidence that proves otherwise. Noting that Brown spoke to the total value of the contract rather than the actual sum that was disbursed, Samuda insisted that “only US$30,000 has been dispensed”.

“There are no scanners that are unaccounted for. They are being tested because of the amount of radiation that it releases, and they are trying to develop a protocol as well as the associated equipment to be used with it, because it’s unclear how this new technology works,” Samuda explained.

“What’s also interesting and what you didn’t bring up, is who had the contract, (who) is a former two-time candidate of the People’s National Party,” Samuda told Brown.

“When there are issues, Senator Brown, you have my support in calling them out, but in this case, it’s just not an issue,” Samuda told the senior senator.

Samuda also clarified that the payment was made in March 2018, and not in 2016.

Since Robert Montage was reassigned from the Security Ministry in a Cabinet reshuffle in March 2018, it is not clear whether he was the minister in charge at the time of the transaction, as Brown had also stated.

Montague is now the Minister of Transport and Mining, while Dr Horace Chang is the Minister of National Security.

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