BECL has not made a profit, says owner
The emissions testing facility at the controversial TCD project has not made any profits since it opened nearly two years ago.
This according to owner Donal Smith who has hit back at a claim that TCD could save Government more than $1 million by running the motor vehicle safety and emissions testing programme.
The boss of private company Bermuda Emissions Control Limited (BECL) strongly denies that he is pocketing profits of up to $600,000 from the government contract.
This was said by TCD director Randy Rochester at last month's Public Accounts Committee.
Mr Smith said it had taken him more than 20 years to bring the latest vehicle safety and emissions technology to Bermuda and he only did so because Government didn't do it.
He said: “Due to the high start up costs, the costs of employing consultants and specialist staff in the years running up to opening for business in April 2009, and loan repayments, the company has not, to date, made any profits nor have the shareholders received any dividends.”
The Committee is investigating the special report by Auditor General Heather Jacobs Matthews into the project.
The report states the Ministry of Transport took over control of the construction of the TCD emissions testing building, and two satellite sites, and there was ministerial interference from the outset.
The cost of the development eventually tripled from $5.3 million to $15.2 million.
The report states this happened after control was “relinquished” to BECL and Corriea Construction Company Limited; a common shareholder linked the companies. Mr Rochester was reported as telling the Committee that TCD could run the facility for $1.4 million less.
However, Mr Smith said this statement was “rather obvious” as private businesses operate to make a profit for its shareholders and owners, while the public sector operates on a zero profit basis.
However, Mr Smith said he “strongly disputed” the sum of $1.4 million which he said had been “pulled out of the air.”
He said: “TCD, the Ministry of Transport and successive governments, have been aware for many years, if not decades, that the process and equipment used by BECL in the vehicle safety and emissions testing lanes was readily available and employed in other jurisdictions, but chose not to introduce it to Bermuda. That initiative was solely due to BECL.”
BECL said no utility bills, maintenance fees or repairs for the equipment at the emissions testing centre in North Street or at Southside and Rockaway had been passed onto or paid by TCD.
Mr Smith said: “BECL has paid and continues to pay all its maintenance and repair invoices as required.
“In addition, BECL pays completely for the rent, phones, electricity, landscaping, office cleaning, building repairs, equipment repairs, air conditioning, security and IT systems at Rockaway and Southside, and for all technical training of its staff.”
However even though there are two electricity meters at North Street, work to split the electrical network still needs to be carried out.
BECL was awarded the sole tender for the emissions facility and Government is locked into the contract with them until 2014.