A parliamentary watchdog committee grilled National Cereals and Produce Board officials over their decision to use restricted tender in the purchase of gunny bags for cereals.
The National Assembly Public Accounts Committee (PAC) sought to know why NCPB Managing Director Joseph Kimote and the Procurement Officer Maureen Letting spent Sh401.5 million on restricted and open tenders.
The committee chaired by Opiyo Wandayi (Ugunja) asked the two to explain why the board awarded Greenland Suppliers the tender at a cost of Sh143 per bag yet they, would have bought directly from manufacturers at a lower price.
“This is a clear case of rip-off of taxpayers. We must get to the root of this. We will have an opportunity to hear Greenland Suppliers,” said Wandayi during the committee’s sitting on Monday.
The committee was looking into the accounts of Strategic Grain Reserve Fund (SGRF), for the year ended June 30, 2017, in which the Auditor General flagged two firms awarded tenders to supply 2.7 million bags and 525,000 bags respectively.
According to the Auditor General, the documents provided for audit indicated that two firms were awarded contracts during the year under review – 2016-17 – to supply gunny bags but it was not clear how the two firms were identified as no documentary evidence was provided to show the procurement method and procedures followed.
But Mr Kimote defended the board, saying it was true that Sh401.5 million was incurred on procurement of gunny bags; where 2.7 million bags were supplied by Greenland Suppliers having been the least evaluated.
“This was an open tender which was advertised in two dailies and 25 firms participated in the tender in which Greenland Suppliers was least evaluated,” said Kimote.
He further said that 525,000 gunny bags were supplied by three different firms on different dates within the financial year.
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He disclosed that the first 400,000 pieces of branded woven polypropylene bags were procured through restrictive tendering method in which seven firms were invited, but after evaluation, Texplast Industries was awarded the tender at a cost of Sh28.08 per bag.
According to Kimote, another 50,000, 50kg branded woven polypropylene were requested and were procured through request for quotations in accordance with the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Act, 2015. Five firms were invited, he said, but only two firms Rai Plywoods (K) Limited and Texplast Industries responded and returned their quotations.
“The quotations were analysed and Texplast Industries Limited was successful at a cost of Sh30.70 per bag,” he said.
But Suna West MP Peter Masara questioned why the cost of the bags kept on fluctuating from Sh28 to Sh30 and Sh38, adding that one firm scooped four tenders out of six available tenders within six months.
“I find this very suspicious that only one firm can win four tenders out of six in which some tenders were restricted. Why was this so?” questioned Masara.
Ms Letting told the committee that they were well-versed on the firms involved in the manufacture of gunny bags.
“We had done our work and knew the companies manufacturing the gunny bags,” Letting told the committee.
Two firms procured the jute bags, three other companies were awarded the tender to supply the polypropylene bags, among them being Rai Plywoods that supplied 45,000 bags for Sh1.72 million and Trans Global Distributors at Sh561,400.
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