Posted: Friday March 19, 2021. 1:18 PM CST.
By Benjamin Fleurs: This week, it emerged that the Department of Health and Welfare had issued a tender for $ 357,000 for six Mazda pickup trucks to Auto Zone, which is not an authorized vehicle dealership in Belize, and the Belize New Car Dealers Association (BNCDA) wants to know why.
The BNCDA issued a statement condemning the tender calling for its cancellation and called for an immediate investigation into how Auto Zone got the tender in the first place.
The association demands that the Ministry of Health answer a number of questions, including: “Why did the Ministry of Health’s tender not follow the tender protocols?” appropriate? Why was a member of the Ministry of Finance not included in the bid approval process? Why was the tender approved for an authorized dealer of a manufacturer on March 4 and reissued to an associate of the Minister on March 11 at a significantly inflated cost? What is the Minister’s relationship with the owner of Auto Zone? Why did the Ministry of Health decide to buy vehicles from a Guatemalan dealership instead of supporting local Belizean dealers who currently have vehicles IN STOCK? Where does Forex come from for this purchase? “
The organization notes that the Central Bank does not currently approve FOREX permits for vehicle imports, adding to what it calls “irregularities” with the tender. The association also noted that only an authorized dealer can issue a manufacturer’s warranty, offer original parts (OEM) and certified support service.
“When you buy from a manufacturer-approved dealer, you get a vehicle specifically designed for the Belize market,” BNCDA said. “Our members include Belizean companies registered as authorized dealers by the manufacturers of the major automotive brands represented in Belize. Together, we employ over three hundred (300) Belizeans, many of whom are currently experiencing the hardships of pay cuts due to the COVID pandemic and ensuing economic stagnation. “
The association notes that the government’s decision not only affects car dealerships, but by extension, we support many local businesses such as body shops, washers, designers, tire repair, salvage services, machine shops and customs brokers.
The problem arose after Caribbean Motors, the exclusive authorized dealer of Mazda-branded vehicles in Belize, wrote a letter to general contractor Omar Mitchell expressing dissatisfaction with the tender. When this letter leaked to the media, the MOHW responded with a statement saying that all bidding procedures had been followed and Auto Zone won the bidding out of a list of seven that had been submitted. The ministry also accused Caribbean Motors of attempting to defame Auto Zone.
Shortly after, another letter was leaked to the media from Financial Secretary Joseph Waight which showed his displeasure with the way the tender had been published and advised the Department of Health to ensure that A representative of the Ministry of Finance sits on the tender evaluation committee in the future.
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