Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Government agrees to 'restore' SEMLEX contract, throwing in voter's card as sweetener

Semlex HQ in Brussels 
The Interior Ministry has written a letter, dated 25th January 2018 and addressed to the the Chief Executive of Semlex, the family-owned company registered and headquartered in Brussels, conveying the decision of the administration of president Adama Barrow to "restore the June 2016 contract."

The proposed restoration of the contract is "subject to re-negotiations on certain terms of the contract that appear to be unconscionable including the percentage sharing," the letter concluded.

The revenue sharing ratio in the old contract calls for a 70 - 30 revenue sharing formula with Semlex retaining 70% to Gambia Government's 30%.

The letter also expressed government's desire "to explore with Semlex the possibility of expanding the contract to include the production of a combined ID and voter's card."  The duration of the contract will also an issue that government would like to discuss with Semlex "in view of the delay in implementation. 

Semlex has 7 days from the date of receipt of the letter to indicate acceptance or otherwise of the government's proposal.  There is no indication that Semlex has responded to Barrow's proposal.

The letter also, in our view, inappropriately informed Semlex, the composition of government's technical committee that will be involved in the review of the June 2016 contract as well as in the negotiations of related aspects of the contract.

The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) is part of the technical committee but our source has informed us that the Chairman, when contacted by Interior and requested to take part in preliminary meetings, firmly turned down the request, presumably to maintain the independence of the IEC.

The legal ramifications of the decision to "restore" a contract that was terminated by the ex-dictator will reverberate sooner than expected in light of the fact that  both Semlex's offices and the CEO's residence in Brussels were raided earlier this month, according to Reuters, in search of evidence in a bribery and corruption scandals involving the company's operations in Africa.

We reached out to the State House Press Director four days ago to comment on the status of the RSP which had a closing date of Thursday, 4th January reopening the tender for Semlex and Prestine.  We are yet to receive a response.