The Ministry of Defence is on the spot for flouting the law in the procurement of foodstuffs worth Sh8.96 billion to feed the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF).
The ministry awarded the tender for the purchase of fresh and non-fresh rations over four years from 2014/15 to 2017/18 financial year.
A special audit indicts the ministry headquarters for awarding tenders without approved procurement plans, non-compliance to the law on the use of restricted tendering and direct procurement as well as failure to comply with decisions of the Public Procurement Administrative Review Board (PPARB).
The audit reveals that tender prices were varied upwards and the ministry used restricted tendering without justification.
The audit by Auditor-General Nancy Gathungu shows six contracts had their original contract prices varied upwards contrary to the instructions to tenderers that the contracts will not be subject to variation on any account.
The affected tenders were for the supply of cabbages, carrots, tomatoes, onion, pineapples, oranges, mangoes and potatoes.
A contract for the supply of potatoes, for instance, had an original price of Sh2,940 but was adjusted upwards to Sh3,675, a 25 percent rise.
“Contract agreements for foodstuff between the Ministry of Defence and suppliers only indicated the market price per unit supplied and not quantity supplied. The special audit could not, therefore, quantify the value of claims made,” Ms Gathungu said in a report tabled in Parliament
The audit shows some suppliers were awarded contracts yet they did not appear in the prequalified list of suppliers.
Others bagged lucrative tenders through irregularities in the tender evaluation, awards to non-winning bidders and bidders not evaluated.
In the four financial years covered by the audit, the ministry headquarters budgeted Sh9.27 billion out of which Sh9.69 billion was spent on food-related items for the Kenya Army, Kenya Air Force, and Kenya Navy.
Kenya Army had the highest budget at Sh7.25 billion, Kenya Airforce (Sh836.47 million) and Kenya Navy (Sh871.46 million).
Ms Gathungu said the special audit covered a total of 226 contracts. The report was sanctioned by the National Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) which asked the auditor in 2018 to launch an investigation on the procurement of foodstuffs, other consumables and direct and restricted procured items by the Ministry of Defence for all military barracks covering financial years 2014/15 to 2017/18.
Ms Gathungu said the scope of work covered operations at the Ministry of Defence headquarters in Nairobi, the Kenya Army headquarters at Kahawa Barracks, the Kenya Air Force headquarters at Eastleigh-Nairobi, and the Kenya Navy headquarters at Mtongwe in Mombasa.
The audit team also visited Kenya Defence Forces barracks/ units in Isiolo, Garissa, Nanyuki, Mombasa, Gilgil, Nakuru and Eldoret. According to the report, the Ministry of Defence made 97 contracts available while service lines/barracks gave 129.
For the 97 contracts reviewed at the ministry, 60 were awarded through open tender, 36 were restricted and one through direct procurement method.
Ms Gathungu said 18 of the 36 contracts awarded through restricted procurement in 2016/17 and 2017/18 were for firms that did not appear in the list of prequalified suppliers.
“The Ministry of Defence, therefore, engaged 18 suppliers with contracts for the supply of foodstuffs through restricted tendering method for suppliers who were not prequalified, contrary to section 95(3) of the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Act, 2015.
The section requires procuring entities to invite tenders from only the approved persons who have been pre-qualified.
Ms Gathungu said no explanation and justification was provided for audit verification on the use of restricted tender for the purchase of food items.
She said four tenders for the supply of beef to Wajir military camp, canned pineapples, underutilized eggs to Isiolo and white and brown bread to Hakati military camp did not have their tender opening minutes and registers signed as per section 78(11) of the procurement law.
The audit also flags instances where the Ministerial Tender Committee overruled the Tender Evaluation Committee in the award of tenders to bidders.
Contract for the supply of vegetables fruits and potatoes to Isiolo camp was awarded to Medabs Enterprises Ltd but the Ministerial Tender Committee proceeded to award Shamz Enterprises instead.
She said four tenders proceeded to either technical evaluation, financial evaluation or award of the tender despite firms not having met the requirement.
The four tenders were awarded to M/s Jambo Grocers which supplied unfertilised chicken eggs to Nanyuki, New KCC which supplied fresh cow milk, pasteurised and UHT to Gilgil barracks, Mountain Slopes K Ltd which was contracted for fresh cow milk, pasteurised and UHT to Nanyuki barracks and Truefoods Ltd that supplied beans and tomato sauce.
Courtesy of Business Daily