By Misairi Thembo Kahungu
The Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority (PPDA) is set to decide on the ongoing procurement saga in which three local companies challenged the Electoral Commission (EC) to award the 2021 ballot paper printing job to foreign firms.Mr Benson Turamye, the executive director of PPDA, told Daily Monitor yesterday that his team was concluding the hearing of petitions by Picfare Industries, Interline Printing Services, and Graphic Systems companies.“We have been handling appeals on administrative review. We have been holding hearings between the parties (local printers and EC). We will have the last hearing tomorrow (today) and then proceed to analyse the evidence before delivering our decision next week,” Mr Turamye said.The best evaluated foreign bidders were Tall Security Printers (UK), Uniprint (South Africa), United Printing and Publishing (Abu Dhabi, UAE), Adare Sec Ltd (UK) and Al Ghurair Printing and Publishing Company (Dubai). Last month, the local printing companies under the Uganda Printers Association (UPA) protested the EC decision to select three foreign firms to share a tender of printing ballot papers for the 2021 General Election at Shs200b.The local companies claim the EC decision disregarded the government policy of Buy Uganda, Build Uganda (BUBU), which promotes locally manufactured goods. Daily Monitor has seen petitions by the three local firms which challenge the dismissal of their application for administrative reviews. The companies say they were all knocked out of the procurement process on grounds that they did not show proof of ever delivering three printing services similar to what the EC wants.This newspaper has not obtained a copy of the three different decisions made by the EC to dismiss the application for administrative review by the three firms.In an October 12 petition signed by Mr Dave Dhiren, the head of institutional sales at Picfare, the company argued that they have in the past handled five printing contracts of a similar nature. Some of the work was done for EC in 2011 and 2016 general elections.“The procuring entity that handled the administrative review erroneously concluded that Picfare’s five contracts of similar nature and complexity did not suffice for the procuring entity’s desired evidence of successful completion of three contracts of similar nature,” the petition reads in part. Advertisement
“Picfare had three such contracts earlier awarded by the procuring entity and duly performed, and it is in respect of that satisfactory past performance/printing of ballot papers that the procuring entity actually issued certificates of completion,” the petition adds.In 2016, the company printed ballot papers for councillors, city division, municipal division, local government councils at Shs3b; and printed ballot papers for youth elections in 2011 at Shs5.1b. In an October 10 petition, Graphic Systems asked PPDA to cause re-evaluation of the bids because the EC included conditions that were not put in the bidding document.“EC team toured Graphic Systems and they were satisfied that we have enough capacity to print ballot papers. A letter dated May 21, 2020 was issued by EC that Graphic Systems can print 145m ballot papers in 30 days….The EC rejected our administrative review appeal without inviting us for discussion,” the petition reads in part.Graphic Systems said EC has on two occasions awarded them contracts to print ballot papers and work was successfully done. The company claims that in June 2018, they printed 281900 ballot papers in one lot and 959100 ballot papers in another lot for EC. WHAT LAW SAYSStatutory Instruments number 16 of the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets (Administrative Review) Regulations, 2014, provides a window for any bidder who is not satisfied by the results of the Evaluation Committee handling bids to seek redress. By law, the EC has to halt the procurement process until PDDA pronounces itself on the matter before it. This could impact on the implementation of the EC roadmap because the law still provides a window for the aggrieved firms to petition the PPDA Appeals Tribunal which is the final decision making body in the procurement process. More than 187 million ballot papers are supposed to be printed by different companies in time for the presidential, parliamentary, and local government elections.