August 23, 2019
By Jariatu S Bangura
Assistant Director of Procurement at the Ministry of Technical and Higher Education, Michael Lahai Swaray, has told the Commissions of Inquiry that the former Minister of Water Resources, Momodu E. Maligie, failed to follow procurement procedures for the purchase of 14 Water bowsers, which cost the ministry USD$4,991,000
He told the Justice Bankole Thompson Commission of Inquiry that he was the Senior Procurement Officer at the Ministry of Water Resources, but left when the new government took power.
He stated that in 2014, the ministry procured fourteen 10,000 liter water bowsers at $4, 991,000.
He cited the statement published in the Audit report, which states that the exchange rate quoted at the time caused some huge loss to the government revenue.
“Yes, the paper in front of me is a minute from the then Minister of Water Resources, Momodu E. Maligie, addressed to former President Ernest Bai Koroma, stating that he selected the supplier for the procurement of the 14 water bowsers which was approved accordingly. Prior to this correspondence to former President Koroma, no procurement procedures were followed by the ex-Minister,” he said.
Swaray agreed that he was in the meeting summoned by the Chairman of the Procurement Unit, Charles Kamanda, in August 2014, and that it was during that time the minute was forwarded to the then president for his approval.
He said upon the receipt of the executive clearance from the then president, he was instructed by the Permanent Secretary to summon an emergency procurement meeting which main agenda was for the procurement of the 14 water bowsers.
“As procurement practitioners, we were supposed to be the principal actors in all procurement processes but in this particular procurement, the rules were flouted by the then minister,” he said
He revealed that in their deliberations at the said meeting, the then minister had already identified the supplier using sole sourcing, thus quoting the Public Procurement Act of 2004 and the Regulations of 2006.
He stated that at the end of the meeting, it was unanimously agreed by the committee to do a letter to the Chief Executive Officer of National Public Procurement Authority (NPPA) informing him about the use of sole sourcing bidding, which was approved.
He further stated that he did prepare standard bidding document for sole sourcing to be carried out outlining all eligibility criteria in the bidding document.
“According to the documents before me, West Stars General Supplies Company was recommended for the supply of the water bowsers. I agree that even though I was part of the Procurement Committee meetings, I was not aware that this company was recommended by the then president,” he said.
He told the commission that the initial supplier that was recommended was later changed to PCS Holdings and that he was never aware of the fact that the minister was advised by the Procurement Committee to select PCS Holdings since the initial cost of West Stars General Supplies Company was the highest.
“The committee never recommended PCS Holdings as the supplier of the water bouncers,” he said.
He said as per the evidence before the tribunal the pro-forma invoice was addressed to the then minister instead of the Permanent Secretary, who is the Chairman of the Procurement Committee.
Swaray said that as professionals, it is mandatory by the Procurement Unit to do market survey provided they are informed earlier about the procurement request.