…Says “flawed advice” caused gov’t to reject first bid
Giftland Office Max, whose first bid to supply the government laptops was rejected, has accused the One Laptop Per Family (OLPF) office of submitting “flawed advice” to the government and wants the process to be more transparent this time around.
“We have noted with alarm, continued reference to the previous Laptop Tender which suggests
that the Giftland OfficeMax bid was non compliant,” Roy Beepat, president of Giftland said yesterday.
At the start of the month, the government announced that it was going to re-tender for the supply of the laptops, since two of the bidders – including Giftland – did not meet the requirements, and the government decided not to go ahead with the third bidder.
Commenting on Giftland Office Max, Sesh Sukhdeo, the Senior Project Officer of the OLPF Project, identified the fundamental problem with Giftland’s original bid to be the fact that the brand of Laptop the company presented as a sample was found to be not a product manufactured by Lenovo, and so the necessary manufacturer’s authorization was not fulfilled.
Giftland had submitted a brand named “Lenova” and not “Lenovo.”
Giftland said that while it is true that the local and regional Lenovo agent were not aware of its sample, and if Sukhdeo had tried to contact the manufacturer he would have received no response since the manufacturer would not engage a third party without Giftland’s permission.
“This is standard business practice. No one would expect that an unauthorized person would be privy to information on a business transaction without permission from at least one of the parties involved in the transaction,” argued Beepat.
He said that Giftland had arranged with the manufacturer to communicate with any government official once that official revealed who would be contacting them.
“It is surprising that anyone would think that they could contact a manufacturing company and assume that they would be able to inquire on a transaction to which they were not a party,” Beepat stated.
He reasoned that Giftland had to provide samples for the bid on very short notice and the normal manufacturing process had to be contracted to allow the company to deliver to the government’s short notice.
“In doing so the laptop marking was less than ideal since a single sample manufacturer is not the same as a full production run. It was under these circumstances that our marketing department made a slip up in correcting this issue with the lettering,” Beepat countered.
He however said that all official documents provided refer to the world renowned brand name Lenovo. Beepat argued that Giftland has performed its own due diligence on the integrity of the manufacturing company it has engaged and on the rights of this company to supply the specified Lenovo product.
Beepat said if there was any doubt about this, Giftland should have been asked to provide supporting guarantees to that effect.
“We could also have arranged for the government official to meet our contracted manufacturer in Shenzhen, China if they felt this would assist in deciding on the authenticity of our product,” Beepat said.
He said that is impossible to defend Giftland’s bid if there are adverse claims made by bid officials without the company having any opportunity to respond.
“It would be well to note that Giftland’s bid was in every way compliant with the Tender
requirements and the only issue which our bid was found noncompliant was the genuineness of the product itself, which it turns out is not an issue at all,” Beepat said.
He argued that it was on this point that the Cabinet was misled into believing the information which was fed to it.
The company has noted that the second Tender for supply of the Laptops also carries the same clause that the OLPF is bound to accept any of the submitted bids.
Giftland wonders why that clause exists and has requested clarification from the OLPF office, given that a bid could reach all the requirements and wins on its own merit.
The company said that the compilation and tendering for a bid of this magnitude is both complex and costly, with Giftland already spending millions of dollars.
The company said that it has invested substantial time and effort to “ensure that we are offering value for money.”
“The information supplied to the Cabinet to make its decision on the first Laptop Tender was flawed; we earnestly hope that greater scrutiny and clearer guidelines for the transparent evaluation of this important award is given for this project for which it so truly deserves,” Beepat declared.
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