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Silence on row over public-private Post Office courier contract

No comment: Wayne Furbert, the minister for the Cabinet Office (File photograph)

Questions about a controversial plan to set up a Bermuda Post Office shipping service in partnership with a foreign courier firm have been stonewalled by the Government.

Wayne Furbert, the minister for the Cabinet Office, also declined to comment on possible legal action against the Government that could be launched as early as next week.

The row broke out after the Post Office signed a contract with Florida-based shipping company MyUS to create an online shopping platform.

The Bermuda Chamber of Commerce blasted the decision and warned it would inflict more damage on the already struggling island retail sector.

The contract was also condemned by island-based importers after it was revealed that it was not put out to tender.

Lawyers for island-based courier firm Mailboxes Unlimited wrote to Mr Furbert on October 15 and asked for documents that detailed the contract with MyUS.

The letter said: “In the event that such documents are not forthcoming, our client will rely on this correspondence in any costs application before the court.

“We look forward to hearing from you within 14 days, failing which we are instructed to apply to the court for leave to apply for judicial review.”

That 14-day deadline expires today.

The Royal Gazette asked the Government several times over the last three weeks why the contract was not put out to tender and if it would defend its decision in court.

Mr Furbert, in a phone conversation, asked for questions to be put in writing.

A Government spokeswoman later said in response to several e-mails: “Regarding the legal matter, that will be reviewed for comment.”

Mr Furbert also ducked questions at a press conference on Monday.

The Government has also declined to comment on delays in setting up the service.

Mr Furbert earlier said that the shipping service would have a soft launch by the end of September and it was expected to be up and running two weeks ago.

But the BPO website showed that the service was still not available.

A Government spokeswoman said last week: “The post office is in the process of its soft launch for its new online shopping platform.”

No reason was given for the delay.

The Royal Gazette made yet another request to Government for answers yesterday. No response was received by press time last night.

Questions to the minister

The Royal Gazette has been asking the Government questions about the post office’s online shopping platform for the last three weeks, but no detailed responses have been given.

Listed are some of the questions put to Mr Furbert and the Government’s communications department since October 8.

Mr Furbert was sent a letter from lawyers representing courier firm Mailboxes Unlimited that questioned the legality of the contract that Government signed with MyUS. Do you have a response to the claims made in the letter?

Can Mr Furbert say if he/ the Government has responded to the letter? If so, what did he say? And if not, why not?

Are you satisfied that the Government carried out procedures as it should have done? Were any regulations bypassed?

Are you satisfied that the Government has got the best contract for the country? And if so, why? Could a Bermudian firm have put in a better bid? And if not, why not?

What did the Government do to explore local options before signing a deal with a US company?

Can you say if the contract with MyUS was approved by the Cabinet? And if so, how much was it worth?

On September 24, Mr Furbert said the online shopping platform would be introduced with a soft launch by September 30, with an official start date in mid-October. Is the Bermuda Post Office still on track to start this up in the next week or so?

If there are any delays, does the BPO have a revised start date, and what are the reasons for the delay?

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Published October 29, 2021 at 7:55 am (Updated October 29, 2021 at 7:55 am)

Silence on row over public-private Post Office courier contract

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