Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Transport and Housing Antoinette Thompson has found herself at the center of a controversy brewing over the awarding of a government contract to Bahamian company Digisoft.
As the PS, Thompson held great authority and was responsible for overseeing the procurement process. However, it now appears she is seeking to mislead the public regarding the contract.
According to well-placed sources, Thompson submitted Cabinet papers recommending the approval of the contract to Digisoft and another company, Adolpho.
To make matters worse, just days before her six-week vacation, Thompson allegedly sent a written memo to Under Secretary Gaynell Rolle, instructing her to take “the necessary actions” regarding the approved contracts. She also allegedly recommended that Rolle act as the Permanent Secretary during her absence, precisely when the contracts were due to be executed.
As the situation unfolded and questions arose about the contracts, it became evident that Thompson was attempting to distance herself from her earlier recommendations. It also appears as though she sought to throw Minister of Transport and Housing Jobeth Coleby-Davis, the Cabinet, and Under Secretary Rolle under the bus.
However, Prime Minister Philip Davis addressed the controversy during debate on the national budget. He vehemently denied any wrongdoing and clarified that the proposal by another company, Infrasoft, was never approved by the Cabinet.
He also stated that Digisoft and Adolpho had followed the proper approval protocols, with their applications uploaded into the designated portal and reviewed by the tenders committee before being approved by the Cabinet.
Digisoft was awarded the contract to design a portal which Davis said will finally tap into revenue streams that have previously gone unnoticed.
He added, “that is millions of dollars in revenue in which the government will be able to collect from private boat owners and charters who enter our country and move about from port to port. This project will help the Bahamas to close this loop hole and bring in much needed revenue and ensure that we are in line with international port operating standards.”
The contracts were further vetted by the Office of the Attorney General for execution.
Prime Minister Davis went on to praise the young Bahamian entrepreneurs behind Digisoft, highlighting their creativity, talent, and contributions to the nation.
He emphasized the importance of providing equal opportunities for young Bahamians to compete for government contracts, asserting that these individuals had earned their reward and deserved support and respect.