October 11, 2016 By Ibrahim Tarawallie
A special report by the Auditor General on the procurement activities in selected public sector entities has revealed how the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology used restricted bidding method to spend over forty billion Leones in constructing water-well hand-pumps and purchasing teaching and learning materials.
The report, which was submitted to Parliament in early August and spanned from January to October 2015, stated that restricted bidding method was used for the award of 27 contracts, totaling Le14.6 billion for the construction of 496 water-well hand-pumps across the country, as well as eight contracts for the purchase of teaching and learning materials, totaling Le26.1 billion.
The report indicated that with respect to the timing and use of restricted bidding for the items, the procurement committee minutes of 20th February, 2015 stated that the construction of safe protected water well/hand pumps and toilets were best done in the months of March/April and that they were of the case of extreme urgency with presidential pronouncement of the re-opening of schools in March 2015, while the time and cost of considering a large number of bids for the teaching and learning materials was disproportionate to the estimated value of the procurement.
“As at the time of writing this report, with respect to the water wells, there was no evidence that the work had been completed even though the completion date was set for March, 2016. With respect to the contracts for teaching and learning materials, eight separate contracts were signed more than four months after the procurement committee’s decision to use restricted bidding,” the report stated.
According to the report, contracts for the construction of hand-dug wells were signed in August, 2015 with a start date of January, 2016 (9 months after the reopening of schools), while the one for the supply of teaching and learning materials were signed in July, 2015, more than four months after the decision was reached at to use restricted bidding.
It stated further that the conditions in the procurement committee’s minutes were not met as the contracts were awarded and executed far beyond the anticipated dates.
The ministry stated in their official response that the request to use restricted bidding method was a unanimous decision by the Procurement Committee for the supply of teaching and learning materials, and that the decision was adopted on the 20th February, 2015.
They added that a request for a “no objection” to use restricted bidding was made to the National Public Procurement Authority (NPPA) on 23rd February, 2015 and a response was received on the 27th February, 2015.