General News of Wednesday, 21 November 2018
A Corruption Watch investigation has uncovered that some officials allegedly manipulated a number of contracts awarded at the Environmental Protection Agency in recent years.
The contracts were for the supply of LaserJet Printers, laptop computers and laboratory equipment and consumables.
According to documents in possession of Corruption Watch, these contracts worth GH¢733,567 could have cost the EPA GH¢941,867 if some officers and the EPA’s 2017 Entity Tender Committee were not vigilant.
This means the EPA could have lost GH¢208,300; an average of GH¢69,433 in just one national competitive tender process which was initiated in April 2017 and ended in September 2017.
The claim is that Mr. Daniel Aggrey and Mr. Patrick Addai, directors for administration and finance, respectively, allegedly attempted to manipulate tender evaluations under the watch of John A. Pwamang, current Acting Executive Director, during his previous stint as acting executive director in 2017.
Mr John Pwamang, the Ag. Executive Director at the EPA and the current management have still not indicated their readiness to speak with Corruption Watch even though just last Thursday Corruption Watch submitted another letter requesting for a response.
However, the allegations have intensified following the October 24, 2018 Corruption Watch revelation that the EPA had signed off questionable contracts worth GH¢1.5 million.
One of the highlights of that story was the award of a GH¢210,892 contract to Trinity 3 Consult for the supply of items for Christmas packages for EPA staff and retirees.
That contract raised suspicions because the EPA is yet to recover an “overpaid” amount of GH¢64,066, which is the result of the hiking of the price of a box (containing 12 bottles) of Beta Malt from GH¢50 to GH¢150.
The officials who were in charge of the transaction – Peter Abum Sarkodie, Executive Director and Charles Amevor, Deputy Executive Director in charge of Finance and Administration – have both told Corruption Watch that the change in the price of the Beta Malt and the resulting “over payment” was done erroneously.
However, they have since been removed from their positions in circumstances unrelated to the transaction. President Akufo-Addo revoked Abum Sarkodie’s appointment in April 2018 while Prof. Kwabena Frimpong Boateng, Minister for Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation asked for the secondment of Amevor to the ministry in June 2018.
On 13 August 2018, weeks after his secondment to the Ministry of Environment, Amevor received a query from the EPA. Acting Director Pwamang asked Amevor to explain the over payment of more than GH¢64,000 to Trinity 3 Consult and take immediate steps to recover the amount. Alternatively, management would surcharge him with the amount.
Amevor wrote a strong worded six-page response to the query and raised allegations against Pwamang, Aggrey and Addai. He accused the three officials of manipulating tender evaluation reports in the award of contracts for supply of laboratory equipment and consumables, laptop computers and printers.
In July 2017, when Pwamang, was also acting Executive Director, the Entity Tender Committee rejected three out of four evaluation reports prepared with the participation of the two officers, Mr. Daniel Aggrey and Mr. Patrick Addai.
This happened after Amevo had objected to the holding of an EPA Entity Tender Committee meeting to review and approve tender evaluation reports on 28 June 2018.
His grounds were that no advance notice was given for the ETC meeting; Aggrey and Addai were not supposed to evaluate tenders and prepare evaluation reports because they sit on the ETC; and he was denied supervision of the entire procurement processes.
Aggrey and Addai, who were members of the ETC, had served on the four tender evaluation panels. Both Aggrey and Addai served on the evaluation panel for supply of laptop computers and printers together with Joseph Afarega, Samson Botchway, and Jacob Attiogbe.
Aggrey additionally chaired the evaluation panel for the supply of mobile communication devices, which had Samson Botchway, Samuel Obu, Helen Asiamah and Jacob Attiogbe as members. Addai served on the evaluation panel for the supply of laboratory equipment and consumables together with Emmanuel Appoh, Jacob Attiogbe, Samuel Obu and Thermutis Zogblah.
After a back and forth between the directors, Amevor tabled his request in a memo dated 7 July 2017 at an ETC meeting on 19 July 2017. According to the minutes of that meeting, the ETC ruled in favour of constituting an Independent Tender Re-evaluation Committee to re-evaluate the tenders for supply of LaserJet Printers, laptop computers and laboratory equipment and consumables. This was because other bidders were “unjustifiably” disqualified at the preliminary evaluation stage.
However, the ETC passed the evaluation report on the supply of mobile communication devices. That contract, worth GH¢259,324, was awarded to Hub Technologies Ghana Limited for the supply of three models of Samsung and one model of Techno mobile phones.
“ETC will reconvene to consider the other two (2) reports (Laptop Computers & Printers and the Lab Equipment and Consumables) to be re-evaluated and submitted by the External Evaluators,” the minutes read.
The tender re-evaluation panel had four members including Mr Joseph A. Afarega of the EPA, who had served on one of the initial evaluation panels. The new members were Dr. Sam Adu-Kumi of the EPA’s Chemicals Control and Management Centre as chairman; Mr Edmund Mc-Addy also of EPA; and Mr Charles Frimpong of UNDP.
The re-evaluation committee recommended Kemitech Ventures Ltd. as the lowest evaluated tenderer at GH¢1.272m while the next most qualified company was Resolve System Ltd. which put in a tender price of GH¢364,200.
Wagtech Ghana Limited, which won the initial tender evaluation with GH¢650,067, failed the preliminary examination (commercial responsiveness) test and so could not pass for the final detailed examination.
One of the reasons why the four contracts under that April to August 2017 national competitive tendering process have become controversial is because Wagtech, while the re-evaluation reports were awaiting consideration by the ETC, curiously supplied the items without being issued a contract award notification letter.
Amevor says he recalls that the supply of the items compelled the Agency to sit with Wagtech to renegotiate the terms. Therefore, on 24 August 2017, George Korankye, Managing Director of Wagtech Ghana Limited wrote to acknowledge the renegotiated terms. “Reference is made to the above mentioned tender and related meeting held in your offices on Wednesday, August 2017.”
“I wish to confirm the final agreement reached after deliberations which bind Wagtech Ghana to reduce our Total Tender Price of GH¢ 650, 067.16…by GH¢ 100, 000.00…”
In an interview, Mr Korankye, together with Emmanuel Amankwah-Minkah, Wagtech Business Development Manager and George Atiah Atongo, Wagtech Technical Manager, explained why they renegotiated the contracts.
They said it was better to make a loss on that transaction and keep the business relationship with the EPA, which had been its client for at least 20 years.
Meanwhile, Wagtech has produced a letter dated 6th September 2017 to debunk the allegation that the company supplied items without authorization through a contract notification letter.
In this letter of 6 September 2017, Pwamang, who had resumed his previous position of deputy executive director in charge of operations, signed for the executive director to notify the company of the award of contract for the supply and delivery of laboratory equipment and consumables at the sum of GH¢ 650,067.03.
This amount was contrary to the GH¢ 550, 067 that Wagtech had agreed with the Agency.
Nonetheless, the company insists that it was paid GH¢550, 067 as was agreed.
Laptops and printers
Another tender that raised concern was for supply of 50 laptop computers. The independent re-evaluation committee recommended for award of the contract to Glorious Bay Company Ltd. at a total cost of GH¢147,500 compared to the initial tender evaluation report recommendation for another company to be given the contract at a price of GH¢249,400. This saved the Agency GH¢101,900.
Similarly, the re-evaluation of the tenders for supply of 10 LaserJet Printers also led to the award of the contract to Glorious Bay Company Ltd at a cost of GH¢ 36,000. This was in contrast to the earlier recommendation for the contract to go to a different tenderer at a total cost of GH¢42,400, saving the Agency GH¢ 6,400.
Following these developments, Amevor initiated a process to sanction Aggrey and Addai by reassigning them to different schedules but these moves were blocked by Pwamang because the EPA was soon to be migrated unto a new scheme of service.