Government owed $1.7m in Covid-19 travel form fees
The Government has failed to collect more than $1.7 million in fees paid through an online Covid-19 travel authorisation portal on its website, it was confirmed today.
Kim Wilson told the House of Assembly that tech firm ResQwest was hired by Government to set up and operate the portal in June after it was decided to re-open Bermuda’s borders.
But the company has held on to all revenues intended for Government’s coffers as well as earning $190,000 in fees.
All travellers to Bermuda must complete a Travel Authorisation Form as part of the Covid-19 precautions.
The form asks applicants to provide details of travel arrangements, along with a copy of any Covid-19 tests results.
Travellers must also pay a $75 fee to the Government to complete the form.
Ms Wilson confirmed to the House that one of the principals behind ResQwest was also a government consultant.
She added the contract for the service had not gone out to tender because of a lack of time.
The go-ahead to open Bermuda’s airport at the beginning of July was given on June 23.
Ms Wilson said: “That gave Government just seven days to source an online travel authorisation portal.
“Reopening Bermuda’s borders was vital for our economic recovery and to allow flights to resume.”
She added that a search of companies that could provide the service was carried and it was decided that ResQwest offered the best deal.
Michael Dunkley, the Shadow Minister of National Security and Health, asked for the total amount of fees collected.
Ms Wilson said: “The total amount of fees collected from individuals requesting travel authorisations up to October 31 2020 since the inception of the form is $1,741,980.”
Mr Dunkley asked what had happened to the money.
Ms Wilson said that the contract with ResQwest had only recently been finalised and the funds were “in the process” of being transferred.
Mr Dunkley asked: “If that’s the case where would the funds be now?”
Ms Wilson said: “The ResQwest account. ResQwest have been holding the funds.”