City of Kigali (CoK) has been accused of offering tenders without following legal procedures, a habit which the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) says has been carried on from the previous financial year.
PAC showed that the CoK illegally offered tenders in many ways, which MPs said, is an intentional practice.
For instance, CoK made an advance payment in midst of contract negotiations with the consent of the legal advisor and not consulting the procurement authority (RPPA), offering 76% above the planned tender budget and not soliciting a tender advance guarantee before signing the contract.
The queries were noted in one among many tenders where the city authorities offered an advance payment of over Rwf1.billion lights supply and installation tender to GV Micon without consulting relevant authorities as it turned out the tender was a works tender.
Under procurement laws, an advance payment can only be given to a works tender and not a supply tender.
The City Manager, Julian Rugaza said that this was a mistake and they only realized it was a compiled tender (supply and works) after agreeing to pay off the advance payment (Rwf218million) – equivalent to 20%, without consulting the RPPA.
“This was a mistake and we seek forgiveness for that but when we gave the contractor an advance we also asked them to give us an advance guarantee so that we are also covered in the supply since we were entering the rainy season and needed the lighting on some roads,” Rugaza said.
PAC chairman Valens Muhakwa said that the rainy seasons are not an excuse and since both the CoK and RPPA offices are neighbors thus consultation would be easy, and therefore the explanation not accepted.
MPs asked the City to explain the reasons why they did so, but also stated that the aspect of forgiveness is out of the order of the hearing.
“We want to know why, don’t tell us sorry, because this is not why we are here,” MP Christine Bakundufite said.
The City Manager explained that they were not aware of the type of tender and it was only highlighted during the Office of the Auditor General’s audit thus explaining the mistake and stated that the advance payment was made after the contract signing.
MPs insisted on an explanation as to whether the CoK procurement officer doesn’t know the difference between the two tender types and if he was competent at his job which is basically to master the procurement law and apply it.
The CoK head of Tender Committee Faustin Kabanguka Twahirwa said he is aware of the difference but during tender negotiations they realized that they had forgotten to include the aspect of the tender advance payment.
PAC Chairman Muhakwa intervened saying the reason behind the forgetting is because the procurement team knew that the tender is not a works tender but a supply tender.
Twahirwa explained that by the tender title, it was a supply tender but when it came to implementation he realized that it was a mixed tender (supply and works) and forgot to indicate the changes.
Even with this mixed tender, Muhakwa stated that the CoK as government would have taken a supply side of the tender and indicate the works aspect in tender negotiations.
“Why are all the tender documents without the indication it was a works tender, yet you knew it?” Muhakwa asked.
MP Germaine Mukabalisa stated that it is very clear this tender has a hidden agenda, and this was intentional during negotiations to not indicate the advance details and the percentage weight of either the supply or the works.
“If you had indicated that 99 percent of the tender was works, may be someone with the simplest logic could understand this. This habit of not abiding by the laws means there is a hidden agenda and possibly gave the advance in hiding,” Mukabalisa.
Mukabalisa stated that in the previous hearing, PAC advised the concerned procurement officer to improve legal adherence and work on his mistakes but in vain as the same concerns resurface this year.
The CoK Council Chairperson, Didas Muganga stated that this is a shame to the City, and whether it was a supply or works tender, it was a big mistake to go ahead without consulting RPPA.
“This is a shame on us and cannot explain it and is legally unclean. We have said that even if the negotiations didn’t go in our interest, we should have at least clarified it in documents to show how much supply and work is involved,” Muganga said.
The RPPA representative also blamed the CoK for not abiding by the tender laws and not bothering to seek permission from the authority otherwise.
However, MPS also blamed the City Manager for negligence and the legal advisor not being involved in the procedures thus the mistakes seen in CoK tender scams which have been carried on from the previous year.
The CoK audit appendix shows 11 tenders worth Rwf1.5billion where the legal advisor was not involved. yet the legal advisor is meant to be consulted or to approve on any contract and tenders and payments.