Public Report on the illegal Purchase of 11 ministerial Cars in 1996 by Former Prime Minister Mr Serge Vohor - December 18, 1998 - Emalus Campus
The Government of Vanuatu assumed the obligation to provide suitable transport for the visiting Ministers of Education who came to Vanuatu to attend a Council Meeting of the University of the South Pacific commencing on October 21 1996.
On October 20, 1996 the Prime Minister Serge Vohor wrote to the Minister of Transport Samson Bue instructing him that the Council of Ministers had approved the purchase of 12 new ministerial cars and directed him to purchase these vehicles from the Hyundai dealer in Port Vila for delivery on October 21. These instructions were carried out and the vehicles were purchased. (Eleven vehicles, not 12 were purchased) The Minister of Transport directed the Minister of Finance to pay for the vehicles. Payment in the sum of 20,459,000 vatu was made.
In fact no approval had been given by the Council of Ministers for the purchase of the vehicles. The Regulations of the Purchase of Goods and Services Act require that purchases over 1 million vatu be made subject of tendering procedures and that a minimum of 3 tenders be obtained. This procedure was not followed in respect of the purchase of vehicles. No Central Tender Board was established and no tender notice was given in respect of the purchase. No bids were submitted and no price comparison was made.
Subsequent to the purchase of vehicles, the Government of Vanuatu changed; Hon Donald Kalpokas replaced the Hon Serge Vahor as Prime Minister. Subsequent to the change of Government, the Council of Ministers under the new Government on November 15, 1996 retroactively approved the purchase of 12 cars. On November 23 this approval was amended to reflect the purchase of only 11 vehicles.
The Ombudsman found that the Prime Minister Serge Vahor, Minister of Transport Samson Bue and Finance Minister Shem Nokout breached the Finance Regulations in not following the required tendering procedures for the purchase of the vehicles.
· That the Director General of Finance ensure that all ministries and departments have a copy of the Finance Regulations and that appropriate persons are briefed in respect of these regulations.
· That the Attorney General brief the Council of Ministers in respect of their obligations pursuant to the Finance Regulations.
Written by Edward R. Hill
UNDP Governance and Accountability Project
© Ombudsman of Vanuatu
Published here by University of the South Pacific, School of Law Web Site - www.vanuatu.usp.ac.fj