Public Report on the improper purchase of Public Works Department lorries in 1994 - November 20, 1998 - Emalus Campus

Public Report on the improper purchase of Public Works Department lorries in 1994 - November 20, 1998


The Finance Regulations pursuant to the Public Finance Act provide that Government purchases of more than 1 million vatu be decided on by a Tenders Board, comprising appointed members who must consider at least 3 written tenders.  In cases where the Tenders Board does not accept the lowest bid, the minutes of the Board meeting must include an explanation.

On June 14, 1994, the Director of the Public Works Department , Mr. Benoit Saint Omer requested quotations from 4 companies for the purchase of 2 or 3 lorries.  These were forwarded to the Minister of Public Works who put them before the Council of Ministers.  On September 18, the Council of Ministers approved the lowest bid.  Subsequently, the Minister of Transport, Mr. Amos Bangabiti advised Mr. Saint Omer that he would like to have the contract awarded to another of the companies that had submitted a quotation.  Accordingly, Saint Omer postponed ordering the lorries.  On September 27, 1994,  the Council of Ministers met, revoked their decision of September 18, and awarded the contract to the other company.  At no time were the provisions of the Finance Regulations relating to the Tenders Board followed.

The Ombudsmanís inquiry concluded that the Director of Public Works, the Minister of Transport and the Council of Ministers had acted contrary to law in not following the Finance Regulations in relation to the purchase of the lorries.  It further concluded that the contract may, in law be null and void.

∑       That all Government departments, ministries and other public institutions observe and follow the requirements of the Finance Regulations when purchasing public vehicles.

∑       That the current Director of Public Works familiarize himself with the relevant laws and procedures and provide training to his staff.


Written by Edward R. Hill
UNDP Governance and Accountability Project
January, 2001
© Ombudsman of Vanuatu
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