General News of Tuesday, 22 December 2015
The Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII) has indicated that it expects the Attorney General to properly scrutinize the procurement process that resulted in spending a whooping ?3.6 million on the rebranding of 116 buses for the Metro Mass Transit.
The deadline given by the Chief of Staff to the Attorney-General to submit a report on the bus branding saga expires today, Tuesday December 22, 2015.
The directive to the AG follows public outcry over the use of more than ?3.6 million of oil funds to brand Metro Mass Transit buses with images of the three former Presidents and President John Mahama.
The outcome of the AG’s investigation is eagerly anticipated by many.
In an interview with Joy News, Executive Director of the GII, Vitus Azeem said there is need for a clear understanding by the public on the decision that went into the branding deal.
“We need to know whether or not there was any bidding, whether it was advertised, in what papers or whether they just picked somebody and awarded the contract” said the Executive Director of the anti-graft agency.
Vitus Azeem indicated that because the public procurement act requires that all serious procurement should go through competitive bidding, it is important to know the process that went into awarding the contract.
“The fellow [contractor] might have had a special relationship that led to all these, so if we want to dig into this whole matter we need to know how it started; the procurement process, how it came that it was awarded to a particular person before we even go into whether that contract was necessary or not and all that,” he said.
Vitus Azim also condemned the pictures of President Mahama pasted on the 116 buses. He described it an abuse of incumbency.
As a presidential candidate, the GII believes that the President will have an added advantage with his image on the buses and this will be unfair to the other candidates who may not have the opportunity to have their pictures on the same platform.
“You have the picture of the sitting president who is also contesting the 2016 elections so he has 116 pictures free of charge running through the whole country being advertised because he is in power. He is depriving the other candidates of using that same space to advertise themselves,” he said.
The GII recommends that if it is found out that the decision leading to the contract is unlawful, without instruction and authority, “the pictures should be removed from the buses at the cost of those who put it there.”
Meanwhile a procurement practitioner, Collins Sarpong, says the bus-branding contract, if it was not awarded through competitive tender, will raise serious questions.
According to him, the contract does not qualify for single source procurement.
“There are a lot of branding and printing and graphic design houses who can have these things printed so you cannot call it sole-source.
He said the contract only qualifies to be sole-source if it was an emergency but in this instance, the number of buses involved required the government to undertake a national competitive tending.