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Travel authorisation cash paid to Government

Money collected through the travel authorisation scheme has been transferred to the Government, it was revealed in the House of Assembly.

David Burt, the Premier, told MPs during the Motion to Adjourn last Friday that about $1.7 million in funds raised through travel authorisations had been sent to the Consolidated Fund.

Mr Burt said: “We had to get back limits lifted to get the money transfer through.”

He was speaking after criticism from Michael Dunkley, the Shadow Minister of National Security and Health.

Mr Dunkley accepted that the Government had to act fast to set up the system.

But he said the sole sourcing of the contract to ResQwuest, whose chief executive is Denis Pitcher, also a fintech adviser to the Government, and the late movement of the cash raised concerns.

It was revealed in the House last week that $1.7 the cash had been collected through the online Covid-19 travel authorisation portal, but the funds had not been forwarded.

Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health, revealed last week 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.

She said the company had earned $190,000 in fees, but at that time it had not yet released the rest of the money.

Ms Wilson also revealed that the contract had not gone out to tender because of time constraints.

Mr Pitcher said last week that he taken no part in the negotiations because of the potential for conflict of interest.

He added that there were several reasons why the contract was not put out to tender.

Mr Pitcher highlighted that there were only three companies on the island with a suitable product - and only ResQwest had an off-the-shelf one ready to go.

All travellers to Bermuda must complete a travel authorisation form through an online portal created by ResQwest as part of the Covid-19 precautions.

The form asks applicants to provide details of travel arrangements and copies of any Covid-19 tests results.

Travellers pay a $75 fee to the Government to complete the form.

A total of $1,741,980 was collected through travel authorisation fees up to October 31.

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Published December 07, 2020 at 8:05 am (Updated December 07, 2020 at 7:56 am)

Travel authorisation cash paid to Government

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