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Breaking News:

BAMSI cost over $80 mil.

$10 million per year on operations and salaries, minister confirms
  • Renward Wells.

TRAVIS CARTWRIGHT-CARROLL
Guardian Senior Reporter
travis@nasguard.com

Published: Jul 17, 2017

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The Christie administration spent at least $80 million on the Bahamas Agriculture and Marine Science Institute (BAMSI), Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources Renward Wells revealed yesterday.

And that figure is expected to increase once all investigations are complete.

According to Wells, $10 million a year was spent on the operational cost of BAMSI.

“Most of that was spent on salaries,” Wells said.

The total investment in BAMSI has been unclear for most of the Christie administration’s tenure.

Wells told The Nassau Guardian that he understood BAMSI cost “between the operational side and the construction side, somewhere in the area of $80 million, perhaps even higher”.

“We are still assessing,” he said.

“I know that the government, from the establishment of the corporation, was spending $10 million a year just on the operation side, the university, the experimental farms in both Andros and the operations here in Nassau.”

When asked if the government received value for money, Wells said, “We are in the process of assessing how much value was gotten for the money.”

In October 2014, former Prime Minister Perry Christie said that the government had spent $23 million on the project at that time.

It is unclear how many people are employed by BAMSI.

Wells has said that he directed the permanent secretary in his ministry to conduct a personnel audit and an infrastructure audit within the Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources.

 

Abuses

Minister of Public Works Desmond Banister said yesterday that there were clear “abuses” at BAMSI.

“There were abuses,” said Bannister, who appeared as a guest on the Guardian Talk Radio show Q&A with host Quincy Parker.

“I’ve had to stop some BAMSI contracts just this week that were started in 2014.

“My understanding is that, for example, people would go down to Andros with contracts in their hands and they would give them to their supporters.

“These people would start work. You would have work that was un-scoped, work that the Ministry of Works was not involved in. You had utter confusion.

Following the show, Bannister told The Guardian that he terminated four contracts. He said the contracts totaled in the “millions of millions of dollars”.

Bannister said based on the names he saw, “they were clearly political supporters of the other side, the former government”.

“Some of them are not people you know to be capable contractors in that community,” he said.

“Some of them were not contractors at all. That concerns me about the buildings. There are a number of concerns that arise.”

Many of the contracts were for buildings at BAMSI, he said.

“Those buildings ought to have had timelines,” he said.

“They did not necessarily have the timelines or the organizational input until the Ministry of Works got involved.”

When asked if the government received value for money he said, “In many areas, no.

“BAMSI is such a confusing puzzle in the way that it was done. It was done in such an ad hoc manner.”

The Christie administration has referred to BAMSI as one of its most important initiatives.

The project experienced several delays and a protracted construction period.

The male dormitory of BAMSI was also destroyed by fire in January 2015.

Wells said the government intends to wind up BAMSI.

“It is the intention of the government of The Bahamas to split BAMSI to put the campus in North Andros under the auspices of the University of The Bahamas and we will rename it,” he said.

“We will take the other side that has to do with the personnel and the packing houses and all of that and we will put that back into the Ministry of Agriculture.”

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