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Uganda overhauls procurement rules to ‘eliminate influence peddling’

April 26, 2014 Leave a comment

SupplyManagement

8 April 2014 | Will Green

Government procurement regulations in Uganda have been revamped to support local businesses, speed up processes and “eliminate influence peddling”.

Under the changes bid evaluation teams will have to work to fixed time frames, and officials and ministers will not be allowed to bid for contracts with the government institution they are employed by or responsible for. A tribunal will also be established to handle complaints about the work of the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority (PPDA).

The new regulations include preference schemes that give advantages to local suppliers when procuring goods, services and works. Some contracts will also be set aside for young people, women and people with disabilities.

Meanwhile, officials “shall not sign a contract whose contract price is above the market price of the product being procured” to “eliminate cases of the government paying ridiculously high prices for procurements”.

Government bodies will be required to publish procurement plans, firms will be able to request information on unsuccessful bids, and in certain situations bidders will be allowed to submit a non-monetary “bid securing declaration” instead of using a costly bid security.

A PPDA spokesman said: “With 60 per cent to 70 per cent of the government budget being spent on public procurement and the public outcry against corruption and influence peddling, the law has been strengthened to limit who can provide services to government.”

The changes, which came into force in March, also include special provisions to enable faster and more efficient procurement of medicines and supplies for medical facilities.

The spokesman said: “The amendments will significantly change the way public procurement is managed in Uganda. Some of the immediate benefits are promotion of local businesses under the preference and reservation schemes, and efficiency in public procurement. The new law also demands great accountability from both public and private officials involved in procurement.”

South Africa: SCOPA must investigate Hitachi’s govt contracts

March 5, 2014 Leave a comment

PoliticsWeb

Natasha Michael
March 3, 2014
DA MP says Chancellor House’s sale of its shares in company has made this a matter of urgency. Parliament must intervene in Hitachi debacle.

The DA will be writing to the chairperson of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) requesting him to urgently lead an investigation into all Hitachi Power Africa and government contracts and deals in the last five years.

The recent revelation that Chancellor House – the ANC’s business wing which partially owns Hitachi – has opted to sell its shares in Hitachi Power Africa for an “undisclosed amount”, has made this a matter of urgency and is very questionable.

This is because Hitachi is the company that was not only awarded the contracts of R38 billion to install boilers at the Medupi and Kusile power stations. But those projects have been delayed because of many mistakes and bungles by contractors, including Hitachi itself. Medupi is not yet even close to being complete, and Kusile has only just begun.

In the wake of the delays at Medupi, the DA made efforts to establish the cause for the delays. All efforts to obtain such information however have subsequently been shut down at every turn.

For years the DA has been saying that there is a clear conflict of interest and corruption for President Jacob Zuma’s ANC to be making money off government contracts. That is corruption, plain and simple.

It is simply unacceptable that the ANC is allowed to dubiously award itself a R38 billion contract, make a mess of the project at Medupi – putting South Africa’s energy supply at risk – and then deciding to cash in whenever it pleases, all at the cost of millions of people.

If Parliament is determined to represent its people and ensure transparency in public contracts, Chairperson Godi must urgently call on Minister Gigaba to bring all contracts between Hitachi and the government in the last five years before the committee. SCOPA must ensure this happens without delay.

I will, alongside the DA representative on SCOPA, Dion George ensure that Chairperson Godi does not ignore our calls for Hitachi to be brought to account without fail.

This is not a good story for the people of South Africa, and the truth must be made known.

Statement issued by Natasha Michael MP, DA Shadow Minister of Public Enterprises, March 3 2014

AfDB and EBRD to Launch Assessment of Tunisia’s Public Procurement System

April 23, 2013 Leave a comment

AllAfrica

April 23, 2013

The African Development Bank (AfDB) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) are jointly organizing the North Africa and Southern Eastern Mediterranean (SEMED) Regional Public procurement Conference on Morocco on April 22-23 in Marrakesh, Morocco to launch a report on the assessment of the public procurement system of Tunisia.

The conference, which will provide Tunisia an action plan to improve its public procurement system will include discussions on public procurement initiatives, reforms and assessments in Egypt, Jordan, Mauritania and Morocco.

Key Speakers at the conference will include experts and representatives from the AfDB, EBRD, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL), World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the European Union Delegation to Ukraine.

The AfDB collaborated with the World Bank, the European Union and the Tunisian Government to complete the assessment of Tunisia’s public procurement system in 2012, as part of the Bank’s efforts to promote sound and efficient business practices in Africa.

Algerians outraged over latest corruption accusations against state oil and gas behemoth

March 12, 2013 Leave a comment

Fox News

March 3, 2013 / Associated Press

ALGIERS, Algeria –  Corrupt and gorging itself at the trough of Algeria’s vast oil wealth — that’s how most Algerians privately view the elites running the country. Yet few have been willing to say so publicly, until now.

New corruption scandals are shining a new spotlight on state oil company Sonatrach, which jointly with BP and Norway’s Statoil runs the desert gas plant that was the scene of a bloody hostage standoff in January.

A recent anguished public plea by a former Sonatrach official shocked Algerians and raised hopes that the leadership will try to clean up the oil and gas sector in Africa’s largest country.

There’s plenty at stake: Algeria is also one of the continent’s richest countries, as the No. 3 supplier of natural gas to Europe, with $190 billion in reserves, up $8 billion in the last year alone.

The Feb. 18 letter by former Sonatrach vice president Hocine Malti in the French-language Algerian daily El Watan broke the silence around the company. Addressing the shadowy leader of Algeria’s intelligence service, it asks if he is really serious about investigating new bribery scandals involving Sonatrach and Italian and Canadian companies.

When Italian prosecutors in January announced an investigation into oil company ENI and subsidiary SAIPEM for allegedly paying €197 million ($256.1 million) in bribes to secure an €11 billion contract with Sonatrach, it provoked a firestorm in the Algerian media, until the North African country’s justice system finally announced its own inquiry Feb. 10.

Malti, author of the “Secret History of Algerian Oil,” scoffed that Algerian authorities were only following the lead of international investigators and wondered if Mohammed “Tewfik” Mediene, the feared head of the Department of Research and Security, would allow the real sources of corruption to be tried in court.

“Is it too much to dream that some of your fellow generals, certain ministers or corrupt businessmen — members of the pyramid that you are on top of — members of this fraternity, might also end up in front of justice?” he asked in the letter. “Or will it be like always, just the small fry are targeted by this new investigation?”

“Will we have to continue to listen for news from the Milan prosecutor to know the sad reality of our country, to discover how certain people, whom you know quite well, people you have come across in your long professional career, have gorged themselves on millions of dollars and euros of the country’s oil revenues?” he added.

The response to the letter was swift. Energy Minister Youcef Yousfi promised that once an investigation was complete “we will take all necessary measures” against those harming the interests of the nation.

President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who rarely appears in public, said in a written statement, “these revelations provoke our disgust and condemnation, but I trust the justice system of our country to bring clarity to the web of accusations and discover who is responsible.”

Malti told The Associated Press by telephone from his home in France that he wrote the letter partly out of anger that Algeria had to rely on foreign prosecutors to reveal the extent of its own corruption and addressed it to the head of intelligence to shock people.

“It made a lot of noise because with this letter, I broke a taboo,” he said. “The head of the DRS is an unapproachable figure in Algeria, at times we can’t even pronounce (say) his name.”

It is not the first time the state-owned hydrocarbon company, which provides Algeria with 97 percent of its hard currency earnings, has been enmeshed in scandal.

In 2010, its head, three of its vice presidents and the minister of energy were all fired in a corruption investigation run by Mediene’s intelligence agency.

However, rather than restore faith in the country’s corruption-fighting mechanism, the 2010 purge was widely seen as a chance to settle scores between the DRS and Bouteflika, since most of those fired were his close associates.

Algeria ranks 105 out of 176 in Transparency International‘s 2012 corruption index, and the occasional corruption investigation often just seems to be how the elites settle their scores, such as a string of revelations about prominent politicians in November, which observers said were linked to next year’s presidential elections.

“I realize that people might be shocked by what is happening at Sonatrach — these scandals are terrible and we condemn them as individual acts,” Sonatrach head Abdelhamid Zerguine said on the radio Sunday, the anniversary of Algeria’s 1971 nationalization of its oil industry from the French. He promised to fight further corruption “with utmost vigor,” even while denying it was systemic.

The scale of the scandals is staggering. Nearly €200 million ($260 million) was paid out by the Italians, according to the Milan prosecutor. ENI has pledged full cooperation with prosecutors in their investigations.

Meanwhile, according to a joint investigation by Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper and an Italian business paper published Feb. 22, Canadian company SNC-Lavalin paid a series of bribes of its own to secure a $1 billion engineering contract. Company spokeswoman Lilly Nguyen responded to queries about the case saying “to the best of our knowledge, SNC-Lavalin is not specifically under investigation in the Sonatrach matter.”

With commissions on deals like this going to the highest levels of power, the Algerian press rarely reports about it — until the subject is broached by the foreign media.

Malti, who was there at the founding of Sonatrach in 1963, estimated that the country was losing between $3 and 6 billion annually to corruption in the oil sector alone.

“If a judge says that an inquiry has opened or even a minister promises to take measures against ‘people working against Algeria’s interests,’ I don’t believe them,” Mohammed Saidj, a professor of international relations at Algiers University, told the AP. “It’s just words to appease a public opinion shocked when it hears about the corruption and billions of dollars stolen by high-level political and military officials, including those close to the president.”

The chances of this situation changing are dim, considering how much the country relies on a single company.

In a chapter on Sonatrach in the 2012 book “Oil and Governance,” John Entelis, an Algeria expert at New York’s Fordham University, described the importance of a company established just a year after Algeria won its independence from France, and wrote, “Algeria’s governing elite rely upon Sonatrach for revenue from which they gain power, patronage, and privileges.”

Entelis told AP that the letter in El Watan shows that Algerians are increasingly able to complain about this system, even if that won’t necessarily change things.

“This is the heart of the Algerian political system — Sonatrach, the DRS, civil society in the form of … willingness to make these things public. Some say this is what enables it to maintain itself instead of collapse,” he said.

___

Paul Schemm reported from Rabat, Morocco. Associated Press writer Karim Kebir contributed to this report from Algiers, Algeria.

Analysis: New law fails to ease oil concerns in Uganda

December 14, 2012 Leave a comment

IRIN NEWS

KAMPALA/NAIROBI, 13 December 2012 (IRIN) – Uganda’s parliament recently passed a law to govern the exploration, development and production of the country’s estimated three billion barrels of oil, a resource whose extraction will directly affect the livelihoods of tens of thousands of people.

While the law streamlines the burgeoning industry, analysts have raised concerns over transparency and over who controls the sector.

“The new law helps set clear guidelines under which the oil sector is to be run and managed, and makes clear who is in charge of what roles,” said Tony Otoa, director of Great Lakes Public Affairs (GLPA), a Uganda-based think tank focusing on oil and governance. “However, there are some concerns about transparency and too much power within the oil industry in the hands of the president.”

The bill was passed on 7 December after weeks of wrangling over its controversial Clause 9, which gives the energy minister wide-ranging powers, including authority over the granting and revoking of oil licenses, negotiating and endorsing petroleum agreements, and promoting and sustaining transparency in the petroleum sector. Many members of parliament (MPs) felt these powers should be held by an independent national oil authority.

“Essentially, the standoff, which has ended, was about the withdrawal of trust from a government that is battered by corruption scandals. Also the way the cabinet operates is that, in the past, the feeling has been that some key ministries, like finance, are effectively run by the presidency after being stuffed by yes-men or -women. The pushback against Clause 9 also comes as the Central Bank opened its vaults to a large withdrawal in 2010 [US$740 million to buy six fighter jets] only for approvals to be sought retrospectively,” said Angelo Izama, a Ugandan journalist and oil sector analyst.

“Loss of trust”

“This loss of trust is behind the resistance to greater control by the executive,” he added. “The executive has not been a bad shepherd of the process so far. Uganda’s negotiating position has been tougher with the oil companies, ironically, without the oversight of parliament. However, public scandals elsewhere have negatively affected the ability of the president to convince lawmakers – especially of his party – that he means well.”

A number of donors – including the UK and Ireland – recently suspended aid to Uganda following allegations of deep-rooted corruption in the Office of the Prime Minister. The prime minister, the former energy minister and the foreign affairs minister were all accused of taking kick-backs from oil companies in 2011, charges that remain unproven but that nevertheless damage the reputation of the government.

“The country lacks trust in the state… Institutions and officials have lost legitimacy, and for such an important bill to vest too much power into a political appointee is a recipe for disaster,” said Stephen Oola, a transitional justice and governance analyst at Uganda’s Makerere University Refugee Law Project.

“Granting and revoking licenses and negotiations are technical in nature. We need an independent commission or authority made up of people of good competence, technical ability and experience, and good morals to guard our oil,” said Frank Gashumba, a local businessman and social activist.

Proponents of Clause 9 say licensing powers are safer in the hands of the cabinet than under an oil authority. “The authority is open, easy to bribe and manipulate. Cabinet is bigger than the authority – members of the executive are answerable to Ugandans because they are elected leaders,” said Kenneth Omona, a ruling party MP.

Those opposed to it say they will challenge the law, which was passed with 149 votes in favour and 39 against; some 198 MPs did not turn up to vote.

“The fight is not complete; the passing of the bill is liable to be challenged in courts of law,” said Theodore Ssekikubo, ruling party MP and chair of the parliamentary forum on oil and gas. “If we fail to go to court, we shall subject the matter to a referendum for all Ugandans to pronounce themselves on this strategic resource. We want to ensure transparency and accountability in the oil sector.”

Transparency

There are also concerns about the law’s confidentiality clause, which limits the amount of information accessible by the public.

“The law is lacking transparency – it imposes confidentiality on officials working within the sector, even after they leave office, so there is no opportunity for whistle-blowing or for the public to have access to information on, say, production-sharing agreements,” GLPA’s Otoa said.

He noted that Uganda still hasn’t joined the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), an international scheme that attempts to set a global standard for transparency in oil, gas and mining, further compounding the sector’s lack of transparency. As a member of the EITI, Uganda and oil companies involved in the country would be required to publish all payments and revenues from the industry.

While Total and the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC), two of Uganda’s major oil partners, are listed on Wall Street and are therefore subject to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act – which requires disclosure of payments relating to the acquisition of licenses for exploration and production of oil, gas and minerals – the Irish firm Tullow Oil, another of Uganda’s main oil partners, is not under any similar obligations.

“I am worried we [legislators] and the public can’t access and scrutinize these agreements. You can imagine the recently negotiated and signed oil agreements have not been accessed by the public, not even by members of parliament,” Beatrice Anywar, former shadow energy minister, told IRIN.

The impact of the oil sector has so far been most acutely felt by communities around Lake Albert, thousands of whom have had to move – some willingly and some forcefully – to make room for an oil refinery, which is expected to take up 29sqkm and displace some 8,000 people.

Land issues

“The government is prosecuting the refinery resettlement by the book. However, managing public expectations and the process of multiple decision makers in Uganda’s complex land legal system [Uganda has multiple land systems, including customary, leasehold and freehold] has contributed some volatility to the process… What is adequate compensation? And who determines that? Is it the market or should this be done by the government?” said journalist Izama.

“As a partner to the oil companies, it’s questionable too if the government can make the best decisions for the affected people as it would look to keep project costs fairly low,” he continued. “It is still a dilemma which is jurisprudential as well as political.”

He noted that much of the oil is in game reserves and a sensitive basin with lakes, rivers and a rare biodiversity, and borders the Democratic Republic of Congo, which could also pose challenges for peaceful production; there has already been some tension between the two countries over their boundaries within Lake Albert.

“The process of consensus-building is still weak, and regardless of how it’s arrived at, displacements will create uncomfortable realities, including land and job pressure.”

According to Otoa, Uganda’s lack of a comprehensive land policy makes compensation issues more complex. “We need clear land policies to ensure people are properly compensated – there is a Resettlement Action Plan in place, but it has not been implemented, and a draft land policy has not been actualized, leaving these communities vulnerable,” he said.

He noted that the lack of education among the local population, both in the oil-rich areas and the rest of the country, had contributed to the continued problems in the sector.

“We have focused too much on educating MPs on the implications and importance of good oil governance. We need to move to people-centred approaches and encourage dialogue in the public sphere, which will lead to people demanding accountability from their MPs and the government,” he added.

Ultimately, Izama said, responsible actions by the government will be the difference between Uganda’s oil making a significant impact on the country’s economy or causing conflict and greater poverty.

“Pressure on public institutions prior to commercial oil production is an effective way of counteracting the resource curse. If this public engagement falters, if the transition [from President Museveni to his successor] is volatile, some of the scenarios of the so-called oil curse are possible,” he said. “Overall the tensions are high, but responsible actions by public and political institutions like the past debate show progress is possible.”

Ethiopia: Is ECX at it again? ECX’s upcoming procurement bid

November 30, 2012 Leave a comment

Nazret.com November 29, 2012


By Wondwossen Mezlekia, 

The Ethiopia Commodity Exchange (ECX) is currently conducting a high-ticket international procurement – the first of its kind since a multi-million dollar bid was busted in 2010 due to alleged fraud and corruption during the bidding process.

The bid for the supply, installation, and maintenance of a futures trading software that ECX floated back in 2010 was marred by dishonest maneuvering, seemingly to favor the Sri Lanka based company, Millennium IT, and World Bank withdrew ECX’s award proposal and cancelled the loan. The loan was part of what the government had borrowed from International Development Association (IDA) for the purposes of financing the Rural Capacity Building project. [1] Strangely, the said futures trading software was not needed to begin with and would have been running idle today had ECX purchased it in 2010, because the government is, as it has always been, decidedly against price speculations and hence would not allow Forwards and Futures trade operations that the software was supposed to support.

ECX is once again preparing to spend some of the money that the government has borrowed from the Investment Climate Facilities for Africa Trust (ICF) and other donors on an online trading platform at an estimated total cost of more than $10 million (exact amount and details are withheld). Arguably, much like the futures trading software, the merit of this investment is also questionable, especially in light of ECX’s and the government’s current priorities, the details of which is for another article. The purpose of this article is to equip concerned citizens with the information and resources they need to be on their guard against corruption, and to put on notice anyone who may be under temptation or illusion to fraudulently benefit from the upcoming bid. Although there is no evidence so far, it is better to prevent corruption than to prosecute it.

According to ECX’s budget proposal that was reviewed for this article, almost 76% of the budget for the online trading project will be covered by funds from the World Bank’s Rural Capacity Building Project. ICF has agreed to cover the financing gap of about 24% of the total estimated budget through a grant. The procurement is being conducted under the auspices of the outgoing officers, Dr. Eleni Gebre-Medhin, Solomon Edossa, and Ahadu Woubshet who only have an advisory role under a one-year contract, even though the new CEO, Anteneh Assefa and other officers have already assumed their positions.

The Invitation for Bid (IFD) for the procurement of a core system for online trading, including its risk management, surveillance, and clearing components (Procurement Reference Number ECX-ICF/G/002/2012) was advertised on November 1, 2012 on national papers and online, including on dgMarket. [2] Accordingly, the bid will be opened in two phases: the technical bid will be opened on November 30, 2012 at 10:30 am local time at ECX Media Room, and the opening date for the financial bid will be announced thereafter.[3] The bidding will be conducted in accordance with the open International Tendering Procedures contained in the public procurement guidelines of the Government of Ethiopia, the ICF Guidelines[4], and the International Competitive Bidding (ICB) procedures.

The past record of the government in detecting or prosecuting suspected fraud and corruption is dismal. On the other hand, donor’s guidelines have proved to be reliable sources of defense in past disputes involving international procurement bids. Among these, ICF’s guidelines appear to be by far clearer and strictly dictating how the borrower and bidders alike should behave during the bidding process. For example, ICF not only offers to provide assistance of audit services and monitoring (Article 1.6), but also explicitly states the steps that it takes to fight fraud and corruption (Article 1.7).

Review, Assistance, and Monitoring

1.6 ICF and auditors appointed by ICF shall review the Grant Recipient’s selection process for the selection of suppliers proposed by the Grant Recipient in the Procurement Plan to ensure compliance with the Grant Agreement and these Guidelines. The Grant Recipient shall retain all documentation with respect to each contract during project implementation and up to two [y]ears after the closing date of the Grant Agreement. This documentation would include, but not be limited to, the signed original of the contract, the analysis of the respective proposals, and recommendations for award the record of justification, the capabilities and experience of the suppliers, for examination by ICF, auditors appointed by ICF or by its suppliers.

Fraud and Corruption

1.7 It is ICF’s policy to require that Grant Recipients, as well as suppliers and their subcontractors under ICF-financed contracts, observe the highest standard of ethics during the selection and execution of such contracts. In pursuance of this policy, ICF will reject a proposal for award, cancel the portion of the Grant allocated to a contract; sanction a supplier if it at any time determines that the tender process was marred by corrupt, fraudulent, collusive, coercive, or obstructive practices. In addition, ICF will have the right to require that, in contracts financed by an ICF grant. a provision is included requiring suppliers to permit ICF to inspect their accounts and records and other documents relating to the submission of proposals and contract performance and to have them audited

Articles 2.1, 2.15, and 2.21 of ICF’s guidelines also require borrowers to conduct bidding by following a two-tiered approach and based on Quality and Cost Based Selection (QCBS), which uses a competitive process that takes into account the quality and the cost of the services in the selection of the winner. The guidelines prohibit evaluators of technical proposals from having access to the financial proposals until the technical evaluation is concluded.

The Selection Process

2.1 QCBS uses a competitive process among short-listed firms that takes into account the quality and the cost of the goods and supplies in the selection of the successful supplier. Cost as a factor of selection shall be used judiciously. The relative weight to be given to the quality and cost shall he determined for each case depending on the nature of the assignment.

Evaluation of Proposals: Consideration of Quality and Cost

2.15 The evaluation of the proposals shall be carried out in two stages: first the quality, and then the cost. Evaluators of technical proposals shall not have access to the financial proposals until the technical evaluation is concluded. Financial proposals shall be opened only thereafter. The evaluation shall be carried out in full conformity with the provisions of the RFP.

Articles 2.11 and 2.12 if IFC’s guidelines even go as far as to dictating the minimum time that grant recipients need to allow between the different stages of the procurement process. For example, the minimum time-limit for receipt of proposals should not be less than 40 days from the date of the advertisement, except in emergency situations.

While these and other Articles of ICF’s guidelines appear to provide reasonable controls around each segment of the procurement processes, any control is only as strong as the people applying them. It is thus imperative that concerned citizens and bidders get engaged and attentively monitor all international bidding processes conducted at ECX and other institutions in order to prevent misappropriations of foreign aid in Ethiopia.

Report suspected fraud and corruption to Investment Climate Facility for Africa at info@icfafrica.org or projects@icfafrica.org; the World Bank Group’s Integrity Vice Presidency at investigations_hotline@worldbank.org; or Transparency International at transparency@transparency-usa.org.

[1] http://poorfarmer.blogspot.com/2012/03/is-government-serious-about-fighting_19.html
[2] http://www.dgmarket.com/tenders/np-notice.do~8547811 (dgMarket is an international portal for tenders and procurement opportunities from governments and international organizations)
[3] The time elapsed between the date of advertisement and the bid opening date appears to be shorter than the minimum time limit set under Articles 2.11 and 2.12 of ICF’s Procurement Guidelines
[4] http://www.icfafrica.org/documents/ICF-Procurement-Guidelines-for-Goods–Suppliers.pdf

Read more about ECX at http://poorfarmer.blogspot.com/p/ecx-watch.html
Contact the writer at poorfarmer@gmail.com

Nigeria Validates Manitoba’s Power-Mangement Contract

November 23, 2012 Leave a comment

Bloomberg

By Elisha Bala-Gbogbo

Nov 21, 2012

Nigeria validated a power-management contract signed by Canada’s Manitoba Hydro Electric Board in July to run the state-owned power utility Transmission Co. of Nigeria after regulatory approval, the Bureau of Public Enterprises, the privatization agency, said.

“We have received ratification from the Bureau of Public Procurement and the contract has been certified,” Chukwuma Nwokoh, a spokesman for the Abuja-based privatization agency said by phone today. Under Nigerian laws, all contracts entered into by the government needs to be certified by the Bureau of Public Procurement.

Reuben Abati, a spokesman for President Goodluck Jonathan, on Nov. 14 announced the cancellation of the contract saying the correct procedure wasn’t followed. Manitoba “did not follow the law strictly” and initial report of the termination was a “misunderstanding,” Jonathan said on Nov. 18 in an interview broadcast on state-rub television NTA

Nigeria, Africa’s top oil producer, is selling majority stakes in power plants and letting private investors buy as much as 60 percent of 11 distribution companies spun out of the former state-owned utility as it seeks private investment to curb power shortages. Blackouts are a daily occurrence in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country with more than 160 million people. Demand for electricity in Nigeria is almost double the supply of about 4,000 megawatts and the government plans to boost output to 14,019 megawatts by 2013.

Bids worth more than $2 billion by companies including Siemens AG (SIE) and Korea Electric Power Corp. (KEP) were approved by the government for the sale of the companies on Oct. 30.

To contact the reporter on this story: Elisha Bala-Gbogbo in Abuja atebalagbogbo@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dulue Mbachu at dmbachu@bloomberg.net

 

Nigeria: TCN Contract Cancellation, Yet Another Setback?

November 15, 2012 1 comment

AllAfrica.com

BY YUNUS ABDULHAMID

November 15, 2012

The hiring of Canadian firm, Manitoba Hydro, to manage the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) took the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) five years and enormous resources to conclude. It was seen by industry watchers as a major step forward for the power reform process. The cancellation of the contract by President Goodluck Jonathan could well be a major blow to the reforms.

Managing Director of Manitoba Hydro International in Nigeria Mr. Don Priestman yesterday expressed shock over the reported cancellation of its management contract to run the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) for a period of three years.

He said his company was yet to get any official correspondence terminating the contract has been but they only learnt of the development on the pages of newspapers.

In a telephone interview, Mr. Priestman said: “I haven’t really received any formal notification yet. All I know is from the newspapers. So, we are also surprised and disappointed. We don’t understand the reason behind it but we are just waiting to receive a formal notification. I was hoping that sense would prevail and that it was just a question of time. We were willing to give time for the right decision to be made so we could get out of it.”

TCN is one of the successor companies created from the unbundling of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN). It combines the functions of a transmission services provider, a system operator and a market operator, all of which are central to the sustainability and development of the electricity sector.

Priestman said his next step was to, “wait for instruction from my head office.”

Nigeria is Africa’s most populous nation of more than 160 million and holds the world’s ninth-largest gas reserves but is blighted by power cuts which last several hours a day, forcing businesses and individuals who can afford them to rely on diesel generators.

The Federal Government is in the middle of privatizing the bulk of its power plants and distributing networks, in a reform process supposed to give foreign investors the confidence to provide the estimated $10 billion-a-year the electricity sector needs.

It all started with the ‘forced’ exit of Prof Barth Nnaji as power minister in August who investors and development partners said inspired confidence to invest.

Recently, the announcement of companies linked with controversial political money bags as preferred bidders for the unbundled units of the PHCN attracted hue and cry from stakeholders who expressed fear that they were being sold to government cronies.

An indication that all was not well with the TCN contract came to light on November 2, 2012 when Don Priestman spoke with newsmen at the West Africa Power Pool (WAPP) conference in Abuja, where he had raised alarm that two months after the contract was billed to commence, his firm was still waiting to get the ‘delegated authority’ from the federal government to start work as provided by the contract’s terms.

Priestman had said: “The first month, August, was a transition month and according to the contract, starting the 1st of September, the schedule of delegated authority should have been issued, which would have given us full authority for running TCN. That has not happened. It’s unfortunate. I think you will have to ask the authority why not.

“We are ready and keen to proceed, we have the people here, we know what to do, we have done something similar in other countries with success. So we hope there won’t be much more delay before we can start doing what we came here to do. It’s difficult to do a job when you are not in charge. Right now we are working closely and we are observing, we are making suggestions but we are not in control.”

At the same event, however, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Power, Mrs. Dere Awosika, who represented the Minister of Power, contradicted Priestman’s position.

She told newsmen when asked to clarify Priestman’s position: “Why do you think they are in this meeting? They are already working.”

When further asked if Manitoba was being incorrect and whether the schedule of authority was already in place, she said: “Am not saying so. You want us to just throw out the issue without smoothening ends.”

News, however, broke out on Tuesday night that President Goodluck Jonathan had cancelled the transaction. Reuters quoted Presidential spokesman Rueben Abati as confirming the cancellation of the transaction by President Goodluck Jonathan with immediate effect.

He was quoted as saying the power ministry would issue a statement as to why the deal was cancelled but till press time last night, the ministry had not.

The ministry’s spokesman, Mr Greyne Anosike, told Daily Trust on phone that a statement would be issued after full briefing.

The BPE kept tight lips last night when asked to comment. Its spokesman, Chukuma Nwokoh, said ‘no comment’ when asked the bureau’s reaction to the cancellation of the contract which took it five years to complete.

In September, when Manitoba was to resume as management contractors at the TCN head office in Abuja, PHCN workers stoutly resisted the move. They alleged their jobs were at risk given that the Federal Government had not finalized retirement and disengagement terms with them.

However, then minister of power, Prof Barth Nnaji, said Manitoba would bring only eight staff while existing indigenous staff would be in the shadow as deputies.

He said: “They (Manitoba) are not going to get rid of TCN workers but they will bring in a few people to work with the TCN people and more importantly, they will bring their expertise. They will bring in speed; be able to anticipate issues and problems and address them proactively. This is what we don’t have in the public service.”

The road to the appointment of Manitoba Hydro International of Canada has been long and tortuous. The process started five years ago by the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) during the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2007.

Manitoba Hydro International won the bid to manage the TCN through a bidding process and consequently signed the $23.7 million management contract with the bureau last July. The Power Grid of India lost out in the bidding contest.

The process was stalled during the administration of late President Umaru Yar’Adua, who rolled back the power sector reform and privatisation programme.

However, when Jonathan took over in 2010 and launched the Power Sector Road Map that same year, the Federal Government directed the BPE to continue with the process from where it had been stopped, rather than re-advertising for prospective companies to express interest all over.

Reports suggested that the president’s decision to cancel the contract was based on a memo sent by the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), which for several weeks, had been pushing for its cancellation on the premise that it did not pass through due process as provided under the Public Procurement Act.

Director General of the BPP Emeka Eze was said to have kicked against the appointment of Manitoba because a few material irregularities had been noticed in the process that led to the company’s selection.

Eze was said to have informed the president through the memo that a management contract was distinct from a privatisation transaction or concession, and since the procurement of all Federal Government contracts, including those covering professional services are covered by the Public Procurement Act, the BPE should not have superintended the selection process.

Eze was also said to have insisted that if the BPP had overseen the procurement of the contractor, it is the Federal Executive Council (FEC) that should have approved the selection of Manitoba based on the bureau’s recommendation.

The president has reportedly directed the Ministry of Power to handle the selection of a new contractor for TCN within 30 days.

 

Mozambique: former water officials arrested for corruption

November 6, 2012 Leave a comment

WASH News Africa

November 6, 2012

Mozambique’s anti-corruption agency GCCC has arrested the former director and financial administrator of the central regional office of the government’s Water Supply Investments and Assets Fund (FIPAG).

José Duarte and Henriques Leonardo were expelled from FIPAG in mid-2011, but it apparently took over a year to compile the case against them.

Duarte is accused of creating a private water supply company, Recta, which competed with FIPAG to supply water to ships in Beira port. FIPAG is reported to have suffered a loss This is

The activities of Duarte and Leonardo are said to have caused FIPAG losses of 37 million meticais [US$ 1.23 million].

The IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre is supporting Cowater Consultores Lda. to develop an appropriate anti-corruption strategy and plan with the Direcção Nacional de Águas (DNA) in Mozambique [1].

In April 2012, the government decreed that FIPAG would outsource water distribution to the private sector and restrict its activities financing and managing water assets [2].

[1] Developing a water anti-corruption strategy in Mozambique, IRC, 29 Nov 2011

[2] Mozambique: government relaunches water supply privatisation, Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique / allAfrica.com, 04 Apr 2012

South Africa Government : Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries hands over financial and procurement irregularities investigations to Police

September 8, 2012 6 comments

4-Traders

August 7th, 2012
DAFF hands over the investigations in the fisheries branch to the SAPS

6 Sep 2012

The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has officially handed its investigation into suspected financial and procurement irregularities, maladministration, and corruption in the Fisheries Branch of the department to the South African Police Services (SAPS).

“The investigation is effectively out of the hands of the department and the Minister. Once complete, the SAPS will advise the department on appropriate actions to be taken,” the acting director general, Sipho Ntombela confirmed.

In March 2012, the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, initiated a forensic investigation into the award and multiple extensions of the vessel management function to a shipping management company. Essentially the investigation had to establish whether there were irregularities in the past tenders and management thereof awarded to the company and to its business associates. Smit Amandla Marine has been providing the vessel management function to Government for the past 10 to 12 years.

The investigation mentioned above has reached a critical stage and the department has thus decided to hand it over to the SAPS for finalisation.

“The initial investigation was carried out by a reputable forensic firm that uncovered that there are possible cases of corruption in the Fisheries branch. The investigation by the SAPS is a culmination of this process”, Ntombela concludes.

Below please find a timeline of the events leading up to the handing over of the case to the SAPS:

Timeline:

  • 2000 to 2005: The Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism awards Smit Amandla Marine a tender for five years
  • 2005 to 2010: The contact is extended for another five years, no tender process
  • 2010: Contract is extended for a year
  • 2011: Contract is extended for a year
  • March 2012: Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries initiates investigation into the matter
  • August 2012: Initial findings reveal possible irregularities in procurement, financial management and corruption
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