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April 18, 2021

Serious anomalies in Rs450m agri items procurement


April 18, 2021

PESHAWAR: Serious anomalies and procedure lapses have been detected in the procurement process of Rs450 million items in the Agriculture Extension merged area.

The evaluation of bids has not been carried out in accordance with the bid solicitation documents and the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (KPPRA) Rules.

The KPPRA has directed the provincial Agriculture Department to re-evaluate all bids.

Samiullah Bangash, chairman of the Agriculture Contractors Association of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, told this correspondent that Rs450 million was withdrawn despite KPPRA restraining order. He said that 38 contractors submitted tenders, while the department disqualified 37 technically and awarded the contract to one company at preferential rates.

Abid Kamal, Director General of Agriculture, Integrated Districts, said that some vested-interest contractors had illegally been controlling the supply for the last several years and now they were agitating on a transparent tender. Contractors have resorted to clever tactics to avoid inquiries into the past supply scams, he added.

“False statements of these so-called contractors came to the fore when the tenders, held on Oct 22, 2020, were opened in a transparent manner. An inquiry was also under way against the so-called chairman's firm and he had been found guilty of fraud,” he alleged.

The DG said KEPPRA had directed the department to review the tender on which the committee reviewed it and sent its report to the Authority. Funds were released after the restraining order was lifted. Some elements are conspiring to sabotage development activities in the integrated tribal areas of the government in order to affect the development process, he claimed.

The KPPRA had received complaints from different bidders that the DG Agriculture extension merged areas KP had floated an advertisement in October 2020 of Rs450 million for the purchase of different items, but the tender process was completed illegally and unlawfully.

The Authority admitted the appeal and the technical assistant's committee was constituted to probe the case. According to the report, a copy of which is available with this scribe, the technical assistant committee observed that the format of bid solicitation documents was not notified by the authority for the said purpose. The grievance redress committee (GRC), notified by the procuring entity, is not as per directives/ guidelines of KPPRA. The GRC is not headed by the administrative head of the department, as required under Rule 5 (2) of the GRR.

“During the process of hearing, it was noted that the department did not share the bid evaluation report, required under Rule 45 of KPPRA Rule 2014, due to which the appellants were in no position to question the evaluation report, violating the spirit of KPPRA Act & Rules i.e. transparency, fairness and healthy competition,” the report added.

The report said that the procuring entity had asked for the bid security in the shape of a pay order, which was in violation of regulations, issued by the Authority. The bid evaluation report was defective and having major anomalies i.e. in the case of M/s Climax Seed, marks have not been awarded for RSC&RD (which was mandatory) which clearly showed that non-provision of the same would lead to disqualification of the firm, but yet the firm was considered responsive.

The formula for calculating total scores for the same items is different, which is a violation of Rule 39.

Only M/s Climax Seed and M/s North Seed are responsive, but both lacked mandatory documents required, yet their financial bids were opened. M/s Haji Nursery Form, M/s Salim Nursery and M/s Pakhtunkhwa Nursery were not awarded marks for FSC&RD, but yet these firms were considered responsive and their financial bids were opened.

The appellant argued and submitted in their statement that their profile was available in the brochure, but the department failed to evaluate the same. The Technical Assistants Committee recommended that the department be directed to re-evaluate all bids by constituting a new procurement committee having no member from the previous procurement committee. The new procurement committee should evaluate the bids in accordance with the conditions, set forth within 5 working days and share the result with the bidders by not compromising the spirit of public procurement, and disciplinary action should be initiated against the responsible personnel.