February 23, 2021
By IPRP Communications Unit
The Independent Procurement Review Panel (IPRP) has on Wednesday 17, February 2021, in a ruling, ordered the Community Development Committee (CDC) which comprises Moyamba, Bonthe and Bo District Councils, to refund over Ninety Million Leones (Le 90, 000, 000) to DEE PEE Investment on allegations of procurement irregularities.
On December 15, 2020, a complaint was filed by DEE PEE Investment against the CDC of Moyamba District to the IPRP.
The CDC was tasked with the responsibility of procuring the service of a consultant for the construction of 100 beds hospital in Ngolala, Upper Banta Chiefdom, Moyamba District, as a corporate social responsibility project by VIMETCO Mining Company.
The IPRP is a creature of Section 65 (1) of the National Public Procurement Act No. 10 of 2016. The IPRP is charged with the responsibility to review complaints/appeals from dissatisfied bidders and private contractors about decisions of a procuring entity in the public procurement process.
The procurement process of Sierra Leone is governed by the NPPA Act No.10 2016 and the Regulation Statutory Instrument No.17 of 2016.
After the bid process, including bid opening, the Appellant (DEE PEE Investment) was issued a letter of regret on the 15th November, 2019, stating that his entity was not qualified as the most responsive bidder.
According to Section 64 (1) of the Public Procurement Act of 2016, the Appellant appealed internally, asking for a review of decision by the respondent. The Panel realised that after the Appellant appealed to the CDC, there was no communication from the committee.
Moreover, the Panel was suspicious of foul play and that there was a gross violation of the procurement processes and requirement for a technical advice to be sought in complex and technical procurement process.
According to the Appellant, the Respondent hired a consultant to oversee the procurement of a consultant in public procurement is a step meant to aid non-technical members of the procurement committee to reach a technical decision. In that case, a consultant was hired to advise on the technicality of the construction of a building contract under review.
The consultant, after having participated with the procurement committee, recommended that the Appellant be awarded the contract.
According to report dated 24th July 2019, the Appellant was the most responsive of the bidders. The consultant submitted his report to the Committee. The Committee rejected the report and rather set up a new Committee to da a procurement assessment.
During the hearing to the appeal, the Panel noted that the contract had been awarded to KAM Enterprise (third party’s involvement) and that put the Panel in a difficult situation in reversing the entirety of the contract marred with procurement irregularities.
Moreover, when the third party has incurred financial loss and will be detrimental to their credit record with creditor.
In conclusion, after an enquiry of the matter, the entire procurement process was marred by procurement irregularities; the notification letter lacks sufficient details as required by law, it was wrong for the Committee to ignore the advice of the consultant and took upon themselves to sit on technical project without any specialist background.
After deliberation, the Panel therefore, ordered that the Appellant bid document purchasing cost be refunded in full in the sum of seventy Million Leones (Le 70,000, 000), and a compensation of Le 25,000,000 be paid to the Appellant for loss of income.