Trade & Industry Ministry Caught Up In Consultancy Tender Row

By The Weekly Vision Team

A multi-million shilling consultancy tender the Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry had awarded to a company trading as Anjarwalla & Khanna, has been nullified by the Public Procurement Administrative Review Board due to procurement malpractices. In a ruling dated 11th April 2024, the Public Procurement Administrative Review Board annulled the tender MITI/SDT/REOI/002/2023-2024 for Consulting for Technical Advisory Services on Trade Negotiations-STIP. 

The Ministry had invited submission of tenders using the open tender method, with the tender submission deadline being on Friday, 22nd December 2023 at 11:00 a.m.  According to the signed tender opening minutes submitted under the Confidential File by the Procuring Entity, 8 tenderers were recorded as having submitted their respective tenders in response to the subject tender by the tender submission deadline: 

The 8 firms are CDMS Research and Consultancy Services, Global Standard Resource Certification USA and Kenya, One Voice Consortium, Anjarwalla & Khanna, Integrated Development Consultants Limited, Trade Hub East Africa, Spantrack Consultants and AMG/Jillo/Mahmoud Gitau Jillo LLP. 

At the end of evaluation at the first stage, 5 tenders were found unresponsive, with only 3 tenders, including that of Anjarwalla & Khanna qualifying for evaluation at the Technical Evaluation Stage. At the Technical Evaluation Stage, only Anjarwalla & Khanna and AMG/Jillo/Mahmoud Gitau Jillo LLP’s tenders surpassed the 75-pass mark. Anjarwalla & Khanna tender was ranked 1st with 90.8 marks against AMG/Jillo/Mahmoud Gitau Jillo LLP’s tender, which was ranked 2nd with 83.6 marks. 

Accordingly, the Evaluation Committee recommended Anjarwalla & Khanna as the tenderer with the appropriate qualifications, reference and experience in trade capacity to support African governments on trade policy. In a signed Professional Opinion dated 8th February 2024, the ministry’s Head of Supply Chain Management Services, Ms. Mercy Wachira reviewed how the subject procurement process was undertaken, including the evaluation of tenders, and agreed with the Evaluation Committee’s recommendation of the Interested Party.  Thereafter, on 15th February 2024, the Accounting Officer, Alfred O. K’Ombudo, expressed his concurrence with the Professional Opinion. 

However, CDMS Research and Consultancy Services on 21st March 2024 through the firm of TLO Advocates LLP, filed a request for review dated 21st March 2024 supported by an Affidavit sworn on 21st March 2024 by Samuel O. Agutu, the Managing Director. They sought orders that the decision of the ministry awarding the tender to a single entity, Anjarwalla & Khanna, be set aside. 

It was noted that CDMS Research and Consultancy Services was aggrieved by the decision to disqualify it from the subject tender for not supplying a Tax Compliance Certificate. He urged that a Tax The PPARV in their ruling noted that “We are unable to agree with the Respondent’s and Interested Party’s argument that the Tax Compliance Certificate was a mandatory requirement in the subject tender since Section 55(1)(f) enlists fulfillment of tax obligations as an eligibility requirement for tenders participating in public tenders”. 

The ruling further reads “It would therefore follow that disqualifying the Applicant on account of not submitting a Tax Compliance Certificate was erroneous”.

In ordering fresh procurement for the said tender, the board noted: “The Board therefore finds that the Respondent’s Evaluation Committee did not properly evaluate and disqualify the Applicant from the subject tender. That from the foregoing, the criteria for evaluation seems to be a moving target for lack of certainty and therefore lacks the essential ingredients of fairness, equitableness, transparency, competitiveness and cost-effectiveness”.