Home NewsNational Borrowing Contracts, Incautious Awarding Tender to Music Label—PAC Exhibits REB Weaknesses

Borrowing Contracts, Incautious Awarding Tender to Music Label—PAC Exhibits REB Weaknesses

by Daniel Sabiiti
6:02 am
REB Director General

REB Director General Dr. Nelson Mbarushimana

Rwanda Education Board (REB) has been cautioned on a tender and contract malpractices habit which continues to linger for years and directly affecting the quality of education.

On May 2, during a Parliament Public Accounts Committee (PAC) hearing on the Auditor General’s Audit report, Members of Parliament (MPs) expressed disappointment over the recurrent surfacing of the same issue for some years.

These aspects of not respecting the tendering process such as offering tenders outside the procurement system and without a market survey before bid evaluation were noticed in 19 tenders worth over Rwf 4.5 million.

For example, contrary to Article 32 of Law governing public procurement states, the OAG audit did not get the market survey conducted before the evaluation on the tender of development, production and broadcasting of radio drama series on gender sensitization worth Rwf299.9million awarded to KINA MUSIC Ltd (July 2022).

The AG noted that this tender had only one bidder, which made it hard to assess the value for money of the provided products and services.

REB officials told the committee that this was a mistake but they had few options to find an agency to deliver this service with experience, however MPs were not convinced with the given explanation.

Also REB issued a Purchase Order for the purchase of 540 projectors from Preview Solution Ltd meant for STEM teachers and instead of using its contract with the successful bidder, REB used the contract the supplier had with Rwanda Information Society Authority (RISA) that had higher prices.

This resulted in a loss of Rwf162.1million.

MP Beline Uwineza, the PAC vice chairperson said that these irregularities are not new to REB and have been resurfacing over the years.

“Some of these issues keep coming back, and yet we had earlier agreed on having them resolved. We need to know what resolutions are being taken by REB,” Uwineza said.

The REB Director General, Dr. Nelson Mbarushimana told the committee that this is true, the board had weaknesses and the procurement team was understaffed but this has been resolved and training offered on conducting market surveys.

PAC Chairman MP Valens Muhakwa insisted on why REB procurement officials offered a tender without market survey, urging that this is a standard practice and stated the excuse of need for training isn’t satisfactory since capacity building is always done yet REB has a big procurement team.

One of the procurement officers told PAC that the challenge was on long tender duration which by the time of implementation found a fluctuation in market prices, however PAC noted that this was insufficient explanation as market surveys are done with estimated cost covering any anticipated fluctuation in prices.

The PAC also raised concerns over framework contract for supply and distribution of textbooks (by PITAMBRA and TAN PRINTS) in which government intended to implement the Rwanda Quality Basic Education for Human Capital Development Project.

In this project REB signed four contracts (divided into four Lots) for printing, binding, sewing, packaging and distribution of the textbooks in which they issued various purchase orders (PO) worth $2,867,179 to the above suppliers for delivery of textbooks in 120 days upon reception of the purchase orders.

However, REB provided extensions ranging between 286 and 971 days (between 238 and 809), which were found to be abnormal and MPs said this cost the education cycle for some students who didn’t use the books on time.

DG Mbarushimana explained that this issue was caused by printing challenges witnessed during COVID but revealed that a new delivery and entry system (for suppliers and schools to post requests) will be up in September- to be used to register all deliveries which include books, computer and will be integrated in system.

However, MPs were not impressed by the fact that this delay in delivering the textbooks, inevitably affected the student’s standard of learning and exposes the Project to the risk of losing the funds paid for the textbooks not yet delivered.

Avoidable Government Losses

The committee noted that inside the Rwanda Quality Basic Education (RQBE) is a 5-year project that was aimed at improving teacher competency and student retention and learning in basic education.

The project was to be implemented between November 2019 and November 2024 however shortfalls were experienced in its implementation especially among teachers (not able to use iPads) and irregularities were noted.

These include REB procurement team failing to save public funds in the tender for supply of ICT equipment where they signed four (4) framework contracts with four suppliers (JV I TECH & Magic Development, Preview Solution Ltd, Paramount, MAICO) to supply laptops, projectors and sound equipment in different schools.

The contracts were in four lots and with the same technical specifications and were paid over Rwf 5.8 billion but a review of the above contracts revealed irregularities such as loss resulting from using different unit prices in contracts for supply of ICT Equipment.

The four suppliers quoted different unit prices for the same technical specifications in contracts for supply of ICT Equipment. However, REB failed to negotiate with the successful bidders with the lowest bid prices and consequently, the government lost an opportunity to save Rwf1.15 billion.

PAC chairman, Muhakwa advised on this saying donors can be flexible if the anticipated loopholes can be presented and discussed on a round table- instead of falling into bad books with the OAG.

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