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Access USA courier contract details to be revealed

More questions than answers: Wayne Furbert the Cabinet Office minister (File photograph)

The government will have to reveal details of a controversial deal signed with a US-owned courier company without putting the contract out to tender, a court has ruled.

The Supreme Court has given Bermudian shippers Mailboxes Unlimited leave to appeal against the contract with Access USA.

The ruling means the Government will now have to make public details of its contract with the American firm – which it had refused to do.

The Supreme Court told Kenny Thomson, Mailboxes Unlimited’s president: “The court has reviewed your application and that leave has been granted … to issue an originating notice of motion seeking judicial review herein.”

A legal challenge to the Access USA contract with the Bermuda Post Office to provide cheap rate shipping was launched by Mailboxes Unlimited last month.

The island courier firm took action after requests for details about the contract did not get a response.

The Cabinet Office ministry signed a deal with Florida-based Access USA through the Post Office earlier this year and promised Bermuda shoppers cheap rates for shipping goods in from overseas.

But island-based shippers cried foul and highlighted that the contract had not been put out to competitive tender – and that they could have provided a similar service.

Mr Furbert, the Cabinet Office minister, was questioned on why island firms had not been asked to submit bids for the contract after the US deal was announced.

Mr Furbert said: “Why not?”

Eugene Johnston, on behalf of the Attorney General’s Chambers, wrote to Mailboxes Unlimited’s lawyers last month and insisted there were no legal grounds for the government to reveal the contract details.

A Government spokesman later defended the contract and claimed that it was not put out to tender because its value was not high enough.

The spokesman said: “The ministry is aware of possible legal challenges relating to this agreement and cannot comment any further on the matter.”

The Government also announced that the Post Office would provide a free pick-up service for small businesses who needed to send goods abroad – and said that it could ship overseas at a fraction of the cost of private couriers.

The spokesman said: “As Bermuda-based businesses now compete globally, Government must provide them with the resources to help them thrive.

“To that end, the ministry is excited to advise the public of an add-on feature that will assist small business owners with expanding their reach internationally.

“Upon agreement, small businesses wishing to ship goods or merchandise overseas can arrange for pick-up and overseas shipping by the Bermuda Post Office.”

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Published November 29, 2021 at 8:00 am (Updated November 29, 2021 at 9:10 am)

Access USA courier contract details to be revealed

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