16th December 2018
$11M Free Education Textbooks Contract Loophole as Civil Rights Activist Blasts!
By Alim Jalloh (20/11/18)
The Ministry of Basic & Senior Secondary Schools has not followed the due process in the Free Quality Education textbook deal, reports say.
In an interview on November 10, the National Coordinator of the Civil Rights Coalition, Alphonso Manley reacted to latest news that the Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary School did not follow due process in awarding the contract to supply core textbooks for the Free Quality Education introduced in August this year by the SLPP government.
Alphonso Manley debunked as a lie the information that the contract is worth $11 million dollars. "The contract awarded by the Ministry is $1,978,299.66 to a reputable company that has the capacity to deliver," he clarified.
Mr. Manley noted: "After we heard the news that the Ministry awarded $11 million contract to a foreign company, as against a Sierra Leonean company, it became an issue to us as CSOs.
"As a Sierra Leonean who is passionate about the development of Sierra Leone, I started my investigation by going to the Ministry and the National Public Procurement Agency. Everything was done based on the advice of the NPPA," Alphonso Manley said.
At NPPA, he went on: "We are privileged to see correspondent letters from both sides. One of them was a letter from the NPPA indicating to the Ministry that one of the bidders should have been disqualified at an earlier stage due to apparent conflict of interest as was discovered from the document submitted. As the bid was issued by savings and loan financial institution which is owned by or affiliated to a company."
The Ministry officials, Alphonso Manley explained, stated that they followed due process in awarding the contract, and that neither the Minister nor any senior officials interfered with the process. (Photo: Education Minister Alpha Timbo must wake up fast to seal the loopholes).
The National Procurement Act of 2016, section 51 (2) b, states that failure by a bidder to accept computational checks will lead to a forfeiture of their bid security.
Computational checks were done on both companies that had been shortlisted, which sent letters to the Ministry with the actual bid prizes as follows:
Company (A) price:
Lot 4-$ 794,278.56;
Total $ 2,105,424.06.
Company (B) price:
Lot 3-$ 1,245,627.58;
Lot 4-$ 732,672.10;
Total $ 1,978,299.68.
The total for Company (A) is higher than that of Company (B). So the contract was therefore awarded to Company (B) because it pays its royalties in Sierra Leone. It's authors are Sierra Leoneans, unlike Company (A) whose authors are Nigerians writing for Evans Brothers.
Alphonso Manley explained further that after a thorough review of process and documentation, it was found out that Company (B) complied with due process in all respects. "Therefore, the Ministry should proceed with the award of various contracts as proposed," Alphonso stated.
He expressed dismay that such fake and malicious news disseminated on social media has the tendency to undermine the Free Quality Education that the people of Sierra Leone are expected to enjoy today under the SLPP government.