Minister of Public Works Desmond Bannister said the Ministry of Works intends to commence an audit into the building contracts of the Bahamas Agriculture and Marine Science Institute (BAMSI) before the end of the year.
“It’s a standard thing that the government is doing,” Bannister said in a recent interview.
“I think you would be aware of the many irregularities at BAMSI, many challenges. So, one of the commitments that we made when we came into office was to look into those irregularities fully. That’s something that we’ve made a commitment to the Bahamian people to do.”
He added, “There are huge concerns with the millions of dollars that have been spent on the building contracts. In fact, in many cases, there were no building contracts.”
Bannister said the initial process for the probe is underway.
“There’s still much more to be done before we get into the audit process,” he said.
Asked if the audit is expected to start in 2019, the minister said, “I do hope so. We have been able to get other audits out and I expect that we’ll be able to do this one too.”
However, Bannister did not detail a specific timeline for the audit.
The institute has been plagued with controversy which some attributed to mismanagement by the previous government.
In May 2017, the Minnis administration announced that a forensic audit would be conducted on the institution.
In June 2017, Bannister described BAMSI as a “free for all” under the former Progressive Liberal Party administration, which he claimed was “complicit in certain irregular acts” regarding the controversial project.
Last week, BAMSI Chairman Tennyson Wells told The Nassau Guardian that an audit into the administration and management of the institute is ongoing.
It is expected to be completed within “six to eight weeks”, according to Wells.