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Kenya's DoD's procurement procedure questioned

By | Published Thu, March 17th 2011 at 00:00, Updated Thu, March 17th 2011 at 00:00 GMT +3

By Peter Opiyo

The Public Procurement Oversight Authority (PPOA) says the Department of Defence is yet to comply with the procurement procedures on the Sh4.6 billion military modernisation programme as required by law.

The programme includes the purchase of ten F-5E fighter jets from Amman, Jordan, the refurbishment and upgrade of Panhard AML 245 Armoured Scout Cars, the midlife refits of weapons systems for Kenya Navy Ships and the purchase of Armoured Personnel Carriers (APC).

The Authority also denied that it was represented in a delegation of government officials to Amman that travelled to seal the deal on the controversial acquisition of the fighter jets.

The purchase of the jets has raised questions with MPs questioning their capability to perform.

Appearing before the Parliamentary Committee on Defence and Foreign Relations, the Director General of PPOA, Mr Maurice Juma said the defence and national security organs are required to handle their procurement and disposal of assets on the basis of a dual list, where one list is open to competition and the other is restricted.

But Committee members Gideon Konchella (Kilgoris), Benedict Gunda (Bahari), Wilson Litole (Sigor) and Charles Kilonzo (Yatta) blamed the authority accusing it of ineffectiveness.

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According to the law security organs are required to submit detailed reports, annually, to PPOA on the procedures used to procure the items. But three years since the first programme was initiated by Deppartment of Defence (DoD), it is yet to compile reports to PPOA.

Mr Juma told the Adan Keynan-led Committee that PPOA has written letters to DoD over the matter but they are yet to respond.

"PPOA approved the use of specially permitted procedure subject to several conditions, among them; that the Ministry of State for Defence would submit a detailed report upon conclusion of each of the subject procurements demonstrating how they were processed and formalised including negotiation reports with supporting tender committee minutes which are yet to be received," said Mr Juma.

The Committee now wants PPOA to avail the letters it wrote to DoD over the procurement procedures compliance.

DoD’s failure to provide the reports contravenes Section 133 of the Public Procurement and Disposal Act, 2005 and the Committee questioned why it has taken PPOA long to take action on DoD, with Mr Gunda wondering whether the Authority is a lame duck.

But Mr Juma said the Authority is required to make recommendations to the Advisory Board in case of Compliance but regretted that the Board’s term expired last October.

"We are not lame duck in monitoring of procurement law, if there is non-compliance we are required to make recommendations to the Board, but have no Board to escalate the issue to," he told the Committee.

His argument did not satisfy members with nominated MP, George Nyamweya questioning the rationale of having the terms of the entire members of the Board expiring at the same time.

But he said he had referred the matter to Treasury prior to the expiry of their terms and that the Authority is still awaiting communication on the matter.

On the trip to Jordan, PPOA’s position contradicted that of the Attorney General Amos Wako, when he appeared before the same committee in 2010.

While PPOA said the official in question comes from Treasury, AG held the view that he is an employee of PPOA. The delegation travelled to Jordan between April 24 and 27,2007.

Mr Kilonzo said it was strange that the AG’s office and PPOA gave different accounts on the trip to Jordan and instructed Mr Juma to avail the necessary documentation to the effect, next week.

While appearing before the Committee last year, the AG’s office told the members that the upgrade of Panhard AML 245 Armoured Scout Cars must adhere to the Public Procurement and Disposal Act.

Despite laying this requirement as a prerequisite to the signing of the deal, the AG’s office said that no further interaction was recorded with them on the matter.

At the meeting, Director of Union Logistics, Mr Hasmukh Radia was instructed to appear before the committee next week after he failed to produce registration documents for his Company.

The company is the main clearing firm for DoD and Mr Keynan, who is also the Wajir West MP, wanted to be sure that it is a legal entity before it could engage it in the discussion.

Accompanied by his Advocate, Mr Mutula Kilonzo Jnr, he said the presentation of the documents was not indicated in the invitation letter but promised to avail them.

"We have all the documents you are asking for, they are there, they exist," said Mr Radia.

Last year the registrar of Companies said they could not trace the company in their data.

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