THE MINISTRY of Local Government and Rural Development (MLRD), which is at the centre of another multi-billion cedis contract awarded to Subah Infosolutions, an ICT company, is trying to gag Ghana’s version of the Transparency International (Ghana Integrity Initiative) from commenting on details of the controversial contract.
When the news broke last week Thursday that Subah Infosolution, which was paid the controversial GH˘74 million over what has become known as the Subah saga, had been awarded another juicy contract to supply motorbikes to the district assemblies, Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII) raised alarm over the capacity of Subah to execute the contract.
Mr. Vitus Azeem, who heads the anti-corruption group, argued that the contract to procure motorbikes for the Ministry was outside the core mandate of Subah Infosolutions. “We should be concerned. When you register a company, you state what you plan to do with the company,” he told Joy FM adding that the supply of logistics, including motorbikes, was not part of the services registered by Subah at the Registrar’s General Department.
Mr. Azeem also noted that since there is so much confusion surrounding the award of the contract for Subah to monitor the telecom companies, the company ought not to have been given the contract to supply logistics for the street-naming project.
But, in an apparent attempt to scare away the GII from further commenting on the contract, the Local Government Ministry issued a statement during the week, where it warned Vitus and his GII to be wary of the legal implications of what they are saying about the contract.
“It is important that Mr. Azeem and other anti-corruption agencies address themselves to the legal implications of their statements, and to do proper investigations into matters before they come public,” the ministry warned in the statement, which was signed by the Public Relations officer, Isaac Dupey.
According to the Ministry, with the approval of the procurement authority, the contract went through competitive bidding and went up to the central tender level for the final evaluation and approval, and that all legal processes for a tender were adhered to strictly.
The statement revealed that there were thirteen items bid for, which includes computers, UPSs, printers, GPS, motorbikes, laptops, scanners, plotters, and other software programmes for the project. According to him, with the presidential directive on the implementation of the Street Naming Project, the procurement saved time, and insisted on the right equipment and ensured value for money.
“It is sad that Mr. Azeem should question why Suba-Infosolutions should be awarded a contract because of alleged controversies surrounding the previous contract. How does that previous experience stop Subah from participating in any other contract? It must be noted that as far as the MLGRD is concerned, Subah has not been disqualified by any law in Ghana from participating in the tender. Subah, as all other companies, bided on their merit, and won,” Dupey noted in his statement.
Reacting to the Ministry’s statement, Mr. Vitus Adaboo Azeem noted that he had gone to the website of the Public Procurement Authority, but did not find the Subah contract, which is outside the norm. “The only award of contracts for the procurement of motorcycles by the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD) were awarded to the Delovely Company Ltd in Accra. The contract was awarded in 4 batches to the tune of GH˘6,351,500.00, about the same amount that the motorcycles in the recent saga are reported to cost.
“This even increased my worries, as I started wondering why Subah Infosolutions contract was not on the website. Does it mean there was no contract? Is it another possibility of a payment for no work done (goods supplied)? “I checked with the PPA, and they explained that they were not responsible for putting awards on THEIR website, but that it was the responsibility of the MDAs and other government agencies to populate the website.
That looked strange to me. You create a website and you don’t populate it yourself, and you don’t monitor what is on it? “However, there are many awards by the MLGRD on the website. So, why has the MLGRD not included this contract in the PPA website? I tried to talk to the PRO on telephone, but there was no response. In less than a week, and we are already forgetting about this issue. And some money may be lost,” Mr. Vitus Azeem noted in a statement he sent to The Chronicle.
Meanwhile, the following is the full statement issued by Local Government Ministry: The attention of the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development has been drawn to certain comments made by Vitus Azeem, an anti-corruption campaigner, on Joy FM yesterday and published on myjoyonline, alleging some malpractices in the procurement process, and questioning why government contract should be awarded to Subah Infosolutions. Mr. Azeem went on to call on Ghanaians to be worried about the contract he referred to as controversy.
Whiles the MLGRD welcomes public scrutiny and constructive criticisms of our work, we wish to state that the Ministry is highly disappointed, especially in Mr. Vitus Azeem, for such an unfortunate statement, either made out ignorance of the procurement laws of the country, or the desire to ride on public emotions to get at government and its agencies, at the least opportunity.
If such statements were made by any ordinary person, it could be pardoned, but for a person of his calibre to descend so low into the realms of rumour and populist debate, is regrettable, to say the least. Clearly, a little check at the Ministry would have revealed to him the processes the tender went through, and how those contracts were awarded to the companies. With the approval of the procurement authority, the contract went through Competitive Bidding and went up to the Central Tender level for the final evaluation and approval. All legal processes for a tender were adhered to strictly.
There were thirteen items bided for, which includes computers, UPSs, printers, GPS, motorbikes, laptops, scanners, plotters and other software programmes for the project. With the presidential directive on the implementation of the Street Naming Project, this procurement saved time, insisted on the right equipment, and ensured value for money.
It is sad that Mr. Azeem should question why Suba-Info solutions should be awarded a contract because of alleged controversies surrounding the previous contract.
How does that previous experience stop Subah from participating in any other contract? It must be noted that as far as the MLGRD is concerned, Subah has not been disqualified by any law in Ghana from participating in the tender. Subah, as all other companies, bided on their merit, and won.
We are a country of laws, and not emotions or people’s opinion. Indeed, this tender started since October 2013, and it would rather have been an affront to the laws of this country to refuse to award the contract to the rightful winner, after the tendering process. So, to say Subah is under investigation and so government should not deal with him is just playing to the gallery.
It must be noted that by the tender documents, the contract is to be pre-financed by the eventual winners of the contract. Currently, all the 13 items, including the motorbikes, have been delivered to the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD), even though no payment has been made to any of the companies.
The Metropolitan, Municipal, and District Assemblies (MMDAs) were supposed to submit their cheques to the MLGRD on collection of their equipment. Any attempt, therefore, to find fault with this tender is just for mischief. It is important that Mr. Azeem and other anti-corruption agencies address themselves to the legal implications of their statement, and to do proper investigations into matters before they come public. Our ministry is open and welcomes all who want information on our activities as a ministry.
Source: Isaac Dupey, PRO/The Chronicle
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