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UNDP Project VIOLATES PROCUREMENT ACT: Money withdrawn from Bank and…

The formation of the National Public Procurement Authority (NPPA) is to checkmate excesses in procurement of goods and services in Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDA’s).It was a pre-condition to countries that are assisted by World Bank/IMF and to give transparency and accountability chance to take precedence in governance. Nongovernmental Organizations that are giving helping hands to governance are no exception to lay down rules of the National Public Procurement Authority.

Sadly, what obtains at the Ministry of Information and Communication relating to the 2nd Phase of the Communication Strategy Project is a clear case of violation of the country’s Procurement Act 2004, which stipulates that all procurements by Government, Nongovernmental Organization and Agencies are guided by the Procurement Act 2004.

Officials of both the Ministry of Information and Communication and the United Nations Development Project have reportedly openly violated the 2004 Act in the quick-fix VSAT contract that was awarded to Specialized Technology Solutions, whose Business Manager, Mr. James Cobba is alleged to be a close friend of the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry.

Neglecting the Procurement Authority Act, documentary evidence shows that on receipt of the invoice on 8th December, 2010, the Permanent Secretary Mr. Sheku A.Tamu approved it on 9th December, 2010 and instructed the United Nations Development Project Unit Co,ordinator to pay into the account of Solutions Technology Systems the sum of US$54,000, equivalent to Le232 Million at the then exchange rate. The money was withdrawn and part of it distributed to key players at the Ministry of Information and Communication who aided the award of the contract and gross violation of the Procurement Authority Act 2004.

Permanent-Secretary-Ministry-of-Information-and-Comunication-Sheku-Tamu

The remaining amount, according to sources close to the contractor was insufficient to carry out the implementation of the contract in Bo, Makeni and Kenema and as a result; the contract was not fully executed to this day.

According to Mr. James Cobba, reasons for the neglect of the Procurement Authority Act 2004 was due to the fact that the financial year of the UNDP was almost concluding and it was deem fit that  money meant for the 2nd Phase of the Communication Strategy should be removed immediately and utilized.

The utilization, however of the money did not meet the desired goal or objective of either the contract or fulfilled the criteria of the 2nd Phase of the Communication Strategy, which was to establish a pilot Resource Centres in three regions to enhance information dissemination in the country to be followed by other key regions in the country.

Fingers are now pointing at the Permanent Secretary, Accountant and Project Manager as the individuals who were behind, what could be regarded as misappropriation of donor fund (Next edition)

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