By IPRP Communications Unit
The Independent Procurement Review Panel (IPRP) on Wednesday 17th February 2021 in a ruling ordered the Community Development Committee (CDC) which comprises Moyamba, Bonthe and Bo District Councils to refund DEE PEE Investment over Ninety Million Leones (Le 90, 000, 000) on allegations bordering on procurement irregularities.
An allegation was filed in by DEE PEE Investment against the CDC of the Moyamba District on December 15, 2020 to the IPRP.
The CDC was tasked with the responsibility of procuring for the service of 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, private contractors about decisions of a procuring entity in the public procurement process.
Furthermore, 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 did not qualify 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 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 for a consultant in public procurement is a step meant to aid non-technical members of the procurement committee to reach a technical decision. In this case, a consultant was hired to advice 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 this put the Panel in a difficult situation in reversing the entirety of the contract marred with procurement irregularities.
Moreover, when the thirty 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 with 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 take 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.