The Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Authority (PPDA) says it is examining a resolution issued by the office of the Attorney General (AG) to debar some local firms from participating in government contracts.
In a written response to a questionnaire from The Nation following AG Thabo Chakaka-Nyirenda’s three separate letters dated November 30 2021 to PPDA, Malawi Police Service (MPS) and Malawi Defence Force (MDF) advising them not to deal with some companies owned by businesspersons of Asian descent, PPDA director general Edington Chilapondwa said the issue was referred to the institution’s lawyer for scrutiny.
He said: “We received the AG’s advice. But what you should know is that debarment is a long process. We have instructed our lawyer here to take up the matter. When that process is done, our counsel will come up with a report, and we will then make our position known to the AG.
“If the AG’s decision is upheld, we will proceed to inform all government ministries, departments and agencies about this decision not to deal with the firms the AG has listed.”
Under Section 20 of the PPDA Act, the institution’s director general, after reasonable notice to the bidder or supplier, and after providing reasonable opportunity for that bidder or supplier to be heard and consultation with the affected procuring entities, may exclude a bidder or supplier from participation in procurement for the misconduct prescribed in this Act and the Regulations, in accordance with procedures set out in the Regulations.
And Section 23 further states that a procuring entity may (a) reject all bids at any time prior to the acceptance of a bid, without incurring thereby any liability to the bidders; and (b) cancel the procurement proceedings in the public interest, without incurring thereby any liability to the bidders.
In his submission, Nyirenda accused the affected companies of making huge and questionable claims against government.
He said the companies have court cases against government and that most of the cases were questionable as they range from breach of contract to payment of interests.
Writes Nyirenda: “The meeting singled out business entities owned by Messrs. Karim Abdul Batatawala, Aslam Batatawala, Shiraz Ferreira and C.A. Mahmood as some of the business entities that have the habitof making dubious claims against government and of engaging themselves in unfair trading.”
He further advised police to stop dealing with intermediaries to procure military equipment and hardware, but to buy directly from the manufacturers.
In an interview on Monday, MDF Commander General Vincent Nundwe also confirmed receiving the AG’s letter and said his institution was ready to implement the AG’s advice.
He also said the payments for the contracts performed or goods delivered must always be on time to avoid court battles.
Police are yet to respond to our questionnaire on their position on the AG’s order.
The AG cited 17 companies owned by the Batatawalas, namely Lido Electrical and Engineering, African Commercial Agency, Kasco Enterprises, SS Express Agency, HG General Supplies, ZamZam General Dealers, Gratorite General Dealers, Novatech Engineering Supplies, Jets 200, Elegant General Dealers, L&G Tools and Engineering, Iris Group SA, Challenge International, Ary Solutions, Milton Connection, Universal Kit Supplies and Reliance Trading.
The AG earlier said his office is faced with claims in excess of K2 trillion, which is beyond the K1.9 trillion 2021/22 National Budget, and was giving strict scrutiny to K800 billion worth of demand letters for compensation from lawyers because some of them appear fraudulent.