US$7.5 laptop contract… Questions raised over Auto Supplies owner’s association with Haier
– local company’s GM represented Chinese supplier at bid opening
Patrick Koo, the General Manager of Auto Supplies, represented the Haier company at the opening of bids, but now denies being connected with the company that won the US$7.5 million contract to supply the government 27,000 netbooks.
Given Koo’s presence at the bid opening, questions have been raised about the association of Auto Supplies owner Brian James with Haier.
Two weeks ago, James, no stranger to controversy, cancelled his invitations to a ceremony to mark the start of construction of a cinema complex on land which is the centre of a bitter legal dispute between the government and hardware giant Toolsie Persaud Limited. Toolsie Persaud claims it is the rightful owner of the land which was sold off by the government.
James could not be reached for comment yesterday regarding his possible involvement with Haier.
According to the minutes of the August 9th meeting of the National Procurement and Tender Administration, during which tenders were opened for the laptop supply contract, Patrick Koo, signed as representing Haier. Another person, who gave their telephone contact as the same as that of Auto Supplies, signed on behalf of the other Chinese company that put in a bid for the contract.
However, when contacted by Kaieteur News Friday, Koo said that he was “assisting in putting things” together for Haier. However, Koo said he was not the representative of Haier. He said he was asked by an “associate” to help out. When asked who was his “associate” Koo said he could not provide that information. He undertook to return a call but this has not been done. Attempts to reach Koo yesterday proved futile.
When the award of the contract was made last Wednesday, the Senior Project Manager, Sesh Sukhdeo said that the company has a time within which to name its representative and when that happens, the information will be provided.
As per the bid documents, the company has 21 days following the award of the contract to do so.
The company that won the contract is Haier Electrical Appliances Limited of China. Upon enquiry, Kaieteur News was told that the winning company is a subsidiary of the Hiaer Group.
This newspaper requested contact information for the winning company and was provided with a website for Haier Global. That website lists Haier China as one of its Asia locations, and there was no specific mention of Haier Electrical Appliances Limited.
According to the company’s website, Haier’s four leading product categories – refrigerators, refrigerating cabinets, air conditioners and washing machines – have over 30% market share.
Haier was one of two companies that President Bharrat Jagdeo, six months ago, said could be favoured to supply laptops, utilizing the Chinese grant funding for the project.
According to bid documents, the government has to publish on the national website (www.gina.gov.gy) the results identifying the winning bidder, the price it was offered and the duration and summary scope of the contract awarded.
The government, as the purchaser, is also obligated to give the reasons why the other bids were rejected.
After publication of the award, unsuccessful bidders may request in writing to the Purchaser for a debriefing, seeking explanations on the grounds on which their bids were not selected.
Kaieteur News understands that at least one bidder has requested this information. Once this is done, the bid documents specify that the purchaser “shall promptly respond in writing to any unsuccessful Bidder who, after Publication of contract award, requests a debriefing.”
According to bid documents, the winning contractor will have two months after it signs the contract to provide half the amount of netbooks and within another month to supply the remainder.
The government has said that it aims to start handing out the laptops in October.
Haier Electrical Appliances won the bid in the re-tender for the supply of the laptops. In the first process, three local companies submitted bids, but they were all rejected by the government, which launched another process.
The bids in the fresh round of tendering were opened on August 9 and it was revealed that eight foreign companies and three local companies put in bids. The bidding entities were Fatz Express Packaging Services (T&T); InfoStock of Spain/Global Services Limited; McEarney Business Machine (MBM) of Trinidad; Abboud Trading Corporation of Florida, USA; Josh Gram-Hanssen of Denmark; N.J. Computers of Trinidad; GOHIGH of China; Haier Electrical Appliances Limited of China; Deo Narine Singh/Nova Scotia Manufacturing Company (Guyana); Giftland Office Max (Guyana) and RRT Enterprise and Auto Sales of Guyana.
In re-tendering, the government moved to adjust the technical specifications for the laptops it wants. The Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh said this was done after two meetings with stakeholders.
Singh said that the submission of 11 bids served as justification for the government’s decision to re-tender for the supply of the laptops. He said the intention was to increase the competition in the bidding process.
Once three bidders were shortlisted, Dr Singh said, the bids were evaluated by a technical team to ascertain whether each bid was substantially responsive.
Once the three companies were favoured, they were subjected to detailed valuation against a comprehensive set of financial and technical criteria, Dr Singh explained.
The evaluation committee ranked Haier as the highest and made its recommendation to the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board, which endorsed the recommendation and sent it off to Cabinet.
The bidding, conducted through the International Competitive Bidding (ICB) procedures, required bidders to show evidence of technical experience and financial capacity; manufacturer’s authorization and warranty; audited financial statements for the past three years from a recognized/authorized agency; and submission of the bid security. A margin of preference for eligible domestic bids was not applied.
Regarding the specifications of the Netbook/Laptop, the bid documents made it clear what the requirements would be.
It is expected that the memory will be at least 2.0GB; a display screen of 10.1 inches; camera of 0.3 megapixels; two USB 2.0 ports; 1 RJ-45; headphones; microphones, card reader: MMC/SD Video Adaptor; Integrated Video with an operating system of a minimum Genuine Windows 7 Starter English (OEM).
It will also include a minimum two hours battery operational life and has the capacity to handle wireless data. In addition to anti-virus protection, the laptop or netbook should also give a one-year manufacturer’s warranty on parts and labour.