A deal to supply 1000 laptops to the Ministry of Local Government turned sour after it was discovered that the computers were counterfeits, the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) heard, yesterday.
The laptops were destined for local leaders at the cell level, who needed to improve service delivery with the help of latest technologies.
PAC heard that on November 16, 2009, the Ministry of Local Government through the Rwanda Public Procurement Authority contracted DIDADA Supply S.a.r.l, to supply the laptops within a period of 45 days.
However, the laptops were delivered on February 23, 2010, almost - two months past the deadline – and as it turns out, they were fake.
The total cost for the laptops was Rwf493.6million and according to the procurement officer of the Ministry, Phocas Kambali, an advance payment of Rwf 98.7 million was made.
“Our ICT team had to verify each of the computers. At one point we also had to involve RDB-IT to assist in assessing the authenticity of the laptops,” Kambali told PAC.
The verification is said to last for a period of one year as each and every laptop had to be checked.
“After realizing that the machines where fake, we canceled the tender. It was a counterfeit issue so we reported it to the police.” Kambali added.
The Ministry says that the HP laptops were not authorized by the manufacturer which raised suspicion but DIDADA claims that they have an HP license to distribute their products.
However, PAC blamed the Ministry for not verifying DIDADA’s HP license, prior to the purchase.
MP, Jeanne d’Arc Uwimanimpaye went on to question the circumstances under which the ministry processed an advance payment to the distributor yet the credit line DIDADA Supply S.a.r.l had submitted as a credit security was expired.
In his analysis, PAC chairperson, Juvenal Nkusi noted that there was poor contract management right from the beginning
Reacting to the development, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Local Government, Cyrille Turatsinze said that the issue wasn’t about contract management and that, that is why the Ministry had to file a case against the distributer.
Before going to court, DIDADA Supply S.a.r.l wanted the issue to be solved through arbitration but when the Ministry of Local Government tabled the issue before the Ministry of Justice which provides government arbitrators, it was decided that the case be tabled before courts of laws.
“Rwanda Bureau of Standards (RBS) and RDB confirmed that the laptops where not authentic and not licensed by HP. This was a good reason for us to go to Court,” Turatsinze said.
Concerns were also raised, regarding the storage of the laptops, which were put under the storage of MINALOC.
“You say that the case is in court and the machines are in your stores, so what if the distributor wins the case and later claims that there were damages to the laptops when they are in your stores, how will you cover that loss?” MP Saidat Mukanoheri asked.
PAC Chair, Nkusi, commended the Ministry for having filed the case to court and requested them to inform his committee of the court proceedings and ruling.Follow https://twitter.com/EdwinMusoni