Shah’s comments at a FLP rally were manifestly false and without any evidence - Saneem
Notice issued to Shah to correct his statement by 5pm Thursday

Shah’s comments at a FLP rally were manifestly false and without any evidence - Saneem

Notice issued to Shah to correct his statement by 5pm Thursday

By Vijay Narayan
Tuesday 28/06/2022

Supervisor of Elections, Mohammed Saneem has issued a notice to Fiji Labour Party representative, Haroon Ali Shah, directing him to correct a statement issued on 18th May 2022 in relation to tender procurement practices of the government.

Following clarification from Ariff Ali, the Chair of the Government Tender Board, Saneem has found that the statements at the campaign rally of the FLP were designed to influence the outcome of the election but were manifestly false and without any evidence.

Shah has been directed to immediately correct the statements and provide proof to the Supervisor of having executed the same.

Saneem has given Shah until 5pm Thursday to do so, failing which he will be referred to FICAC, according to law.

He says the Fijian Elections Office encourages all political parties and their representatives to engage in ethical Campaign practices for the 2022 General Election.

Section 144A (4) of the Electoral Act states that any person or political party that contravenes this section commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $50,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 5 years or both.

In his letter to the Supervisor, the Chair of the Government Tender Board says Shah’s allegations focuses in three aspects of tender i.e. tender advertisements, tender evaluation and awards and the validity of awarded companies. Ariff Ali says it is important to note that no evidences were provided to corroborate the claim. He says the claims seemed to be based on assumptions and hearsay.

The Chair further says the Government of Fiji’s procurement process is guided by the Procurement Regulations 2010 and procurement policies and guidelines.

The Government Tender Board approves all procurement above $50,001 while Permanent Secretaries approve procurement below $50,000.

Ali says the claim that ‘there is no public tender’ is false.

He says all tenders are published through the newspaper twice and Government of Fiji’s eTender portal(https://portal.tenderlink.com/economyfiji/).

The Chair says the eTender portal is managed by illion Tenderlink, a company that manages tenders for 600+ organizations and publish more than 41,000 tenders per annum.

Tenderlink system is used by various Government Ministries, Departments government statutory authorities and companies in Fiji, Australia and New Zealand.

Ali says once the tenders are closed, the public can track the status of each tender in the Fiji Procurement Office website.

He also says contrary to claims that awards decisions are based on “who you know”, tenders are evaluated by an evaluation committee consisting of representatives from the procuring Ministry, a Ministry that provides technical advice, the Fiji Procurement Office; and Ministry of Commerce, Trade, Transport and Tourism Evaluations follow a specific evaluation methodology that can be accessed through the Fiji Procurement Office’s website.

He says the tender evaluation criteria forms part of tender documents available to bidders through the eTender portal.

The submissions are sent to the Government Tender Board’s approval once the committee reaches consensus.

Once approved, all bidders are informed via email on the outcome immediately.

This is managed through the eTender portal.

Details on awarded tenders are available publically and can be viewed on our eTender portal.

Any interested stakeholder can view the award details as long as they register themselves in the portal.

Ali also says that the claim that “someone with a fake accounts and no tax to be paid” is ludicrous.

He says working with valid companies that pay taxes is an important component in tender evaluation.

Ali says bidders who participate in tenders must provide compliance letters from FNPF and FRCS and prove that they are a registered business. In the absence of such confirmations, a bidder is eliminated from evaluation.

In addition and as part of its due diligence, the Fiji Procurement Office runs separate verifications directly with FNPF, FRCS and Registrar of Companies on bidders recommended by evaluation committees. This is to ensure the awarded companies are not using fake accounts or confirm that their compliance documents were not tampered with. Where verification is required for overseas companies, the Fiji Procurement Office can also run business verifications and risk reports through illion Tenderlink. Ali also says Government procurement is subject to a number of a number of external reviews.

In addition to the annual audit and performance reviews, government’s procurement processes are also subject to external donor reviews such as the Public Expenditure and Financial Accountability (PEFA) program review.

This was initiated in 2001 by seven international development partners: The European Commission, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and the governments of France, Norway, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

He says in the last PEFA 2020 review, procurement procedures were assessed as effective.

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