Thursday, June 14, 2018

Information Minister helped reverse another mishandled contract award for the Gateway project

Information Minister, D. A. Jawo 
In a leaked letter that has been making its rounds in social media purportedly written by  Hon. D. A. Jawo, Information and Communications Minister is authentic.  The minister also confirmed the contents of the letter as they reflect his current thinking on the issues relating to the Gateway contract award. 

The minister's letter questioned the procedure adopted by the Ministry of Finance and the tacit endorsement of the Office of the President the procurement procedure adopted that completely circumvented the Ministry of Information and Communication, as the line ministry for the Gateway project. 

He felt it was wrong for Finance Ministry and the Secretary General's Office to lead the procurement of a "measuring system" for the Gateway.  It is important to note that the management of the Gateway remains with GAMTEL, as earlier decided.  In contention is the award of the contract for a measuring system for the Gateway to a company named SIGOS-KODRAM.  A google search of the company produced nothing which is usually the first red flag.

The Information Ministry, by the tone of the Minister's letter, left little doubt about the way the line/sector ministry felt about being completely left out of the process - a process that should have originated and led from his ministry, leaving his agency "flabbergasted".  The approval of the tender was, according to the Minister's letter, was communicated by the Finance Ministry to the Secretary General for endorsement without the knowledge of his ministry. 

The Information Minister also made a correction of an official statement made by either the Secretary General's  office or the Ministry of Finance that it was government's decision to award the contract to SIGOS-KODRAM by drawing attention that "...the matter was never discussed in Cabinet and therefore, it is not correct to say that it was a decision of the government." 

It is ironical, as it is unfortunate, that the custodians of the Financial Instructions (F.I.) and the General Orders (G.O.) -  the Secretary General and the Minister of Finance - are in blatant contravention of the operational guidelines of the civil service.  The Public Procurement Agency is under the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs. 

The fact that the minister believed that his ministry was sidelined, he informed the authorities that they will "henceforth, have absolutely nothing to do with the order and we will not participate in the process.  And as such, his ministry "will not be held responsible for any further undue delay to the gateway liberalization process and any possible legal fallout as a result of the decision."

On the phone to Hon. D. A. Jawo in Banjul, he confirmed to us that the matter has since been resolved by the rescission of the decision to award the contract.  It also turns out, according to the minister, that even though bid was not the most responsive, it was at the insistence of the Ministry of Finance for measuring system to be awarded to SIGOS-KODRAM instead of the most responsive bid which belonged to another company that had previously managed the Gateway project. 

The Finance Ministry is cited this previous association with the Jammeh regime as reason not to award it to the most responsive bid, contrary to the procurement rules.  The Information Minister's preference is to award the contract to the most responsive bidder - ranked in first place - instead of the second best.  We will monitor developments with the hope of a swift decision on the contract award and subsequent Cabinet's blessing.