Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Thursday, November 23rd, 2017

Only One Company Quotes on IEC Contract

Only One Company Quotes on IEC Contract

KABUL - A source from the Independent Election Commission (IEC) said on Wednesday that only one company met the deadline in terms of quoting for the $16 million USD contract for electronic equipment needed to hold elections.
This comes after reports emerged on Tuesday that the National Procurement Authority (NPA) hand-picked 13 companies and asked them for quotes on electronic equipment for the IEC.
The only company to meet the apparent deadline was a UAE-based company called Prologix.
However the source said that if they do not meet the criteria for the contract, then the IEC will put it out to public tender. 
The NPA’s move sparked an outcry and critics blasted the authority for not sharing details of the procurement process with the public.
In response to the criticism, the NPA argued that the procurement process was carried out under the ‘Restricted Tendering Process’ segment.
But questions continued to be raised about why the NPA tried to keep the procurement process secret and why only one company sent in quotes. 
It is said that the NPA sent out a request to 13 different companies, in the US, Europe and UAE, but the request was not put out to public tender.
In a letter to each company, the NPA reportedly asked for prices of various devices. The value of the contract is $16 million USD.
According to the letter, the NPA asked for prices of computers, cameras for computers, finger print machines, backdrops for cameras, printers, tools boxes and solar energy devices. The authority said it needs 6,500 units of each.
Only UAE-based Prologix reportedly participated in the process while none of the companies from the US and Europe responded, said the source.
“Restricted tendering process is not bound to the bidding and there should be no delay as it is an important issue; because of that, the Independent Election Commission had recommended the process be approved by the National Procurement Authority,” said Bakhtyar Najman, NPA’s anti-corruption expert.
According to the IEC, foreign experts had identified these companies as top companies four months ago, but the letters were only sent to each company last month.
“The commission recommended 13 companies and gave them 22 days and during this period, the companies shared their offers, ideas and recommendations with the National Procurement Authority; the process ended on Tuesday,” said Imam Mohammad Warimach, head of the IEC secretariat.
Sources within the IEC have said that if Prologix company fails to meet the criteria, it will not be the winner of the contract which will then be put out for public tender. But the question remains as to why the IEC and NPA took such a hasty decision in terms of calling for quotes for the equipment.
“Why is the program removed from the process and changed into a closed process despite the fact that the commission had enough time for it (to be put out to tender); we needed to move forward with the procurement process over the past several months in order to avoid controversy,” said Yusuf Rashid, head of The Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan.
Experts to Govt: Work on Reforms Not on Equipment
Meanwhile, election monitoring groups have criticized government over its approach in bringing reforms in the election commission.
They said government is thinking of purchasing equipment for the IEC instead of spending time on capacity building and implementing reforms in the election commission.
“This process will pave the way for political corruption in future elections,” said Jandad Spinghar, head of the Afghan Civil Society Election Network.
According to election monitoring groups, up to now systematic reforms have not been put in place in the electoral commissions and the capacity within the election management bodies is not adequate in terms of ensuring transparent elections.
Experts say that government delayed holding parliamentary elections for two years, but now it is making symbolic and hasty decisions. (Tolonews)