Unauthorised Procurement Activities Contrary to the provisions in Section 29 (1 & 6) of the Public Procurement Act, 2016 has been uncovered at the Ministry of Youth Affairs for the construction of additional 13 car wash centres, purchase of 5,000 face masks and catering services worth Le6,732,687,345 (Six billion, seven hundred and thirty-two million, Six hundred and Eighty-seven thousand, three hundred and forty-five Leones).

According to the Auditor Generals Annual Report-2020, these procurement activities were not initially planned for and were also not updated in the procurement plans of the 2019 and 2020 financial years. Additionally, there was no evidence of the Procurement Committee’s authorisation for these procurement activities. Procurement of these works and services might have limited the achievement of other economic interventions by the Government to reduce youth unemployment.

In executing the Car Wash and Fishing boat project, bidding irregularities were uncovered in the Construction of 28 Car Wash Centres and 70 Fishing Boats the Ministry of Youth Affairs undertook to reduce the youth unemployment rate in the country.

Bids opening and evaluation records revealed that the Evaluation Committee did not confirm the authenticity of documents such as audited financial statements, NASSIT clearance certificate, tax clearance certificate, bid security, etc. issued by state authorities and private institutions.

Doubts were expressed over audited financial statements submitted by some bidders due to the format of audit opinion, signatures and dates of audit opinion and bidders evaluated as most responsive had compliance problems with the documents they submitted, such as non-submission of local council business license and audited financial statements. These same reasons were used to eliminate other bidders as non-responsive. The fairness of the examination, evaluation and comparisons of bids may be doubtful, as the process may have been skewed towards the selection of pre-determined bidders for the award of contracts. Auditors, therefore, recommend that the Evaluation Committee members be held accountable for failing to adhere to a fair bid examination and evaluation process.

Also, defective and uncompleted works were discovered at Constructed Car Wash Centres in the Western Area. Contrary to provisions in the contracts, contractors failed to construct and install water wells with submersible pumps in nine car wash centres, costing Le422,000,000, ramps to wash vehicles’ under-carrier, costing Le49,300,000.

An incomplete supply of water storage tanks valued at Le46,000,000, and concrete wall fence and drainage at Bismarck Johnson Street under an addendum costing Le24,660,000, were discovered.

These incomplete works and supplies may have resulted in the loss of public funds especially when these contractors had been fully paid. More details about the Ministry of Youth Affairs in the next edition.