It is turning out that the contract awarded to Aero Vote by the Electoral Commission (EC) for the printing of the Statement of Polls and Declaration of Results Forms popularly called Pink Sheets appeared inflated.
Some local companies were said to be willing to execute the same contract for less but the EC ignored them and gave it to Aero Vote for GH¢7.2 million although the commissioner Mrs. Charlotte Osei had variously insisted they wanted a value-for-money transaction.
Documents available to DAILY GUIDE showed that there was a possible breach of procurement in the whole selection process.
The actual tender at the opening was GH¢8.95 million which the EC announced Aero Vote – a company that was bankrupt as at 2013 but relocated to Ghana somewhere in November last year – as the winner but by the time it reached the public, the amount had changed to GH¢7.2 million.
Recently when the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) raised issues about the propriety of Aero Vote's contractual obligations, the Communications Director at the EC, Eric Kofi Dzakpasu issued a statement condemning the NPP for raising what he deemed as 'false' alarm.
“It is false that Aero Vote was awarded a contract worth US$8.95 million for the printing of the Statement of Polls and Declaration of Results Forms. The contract awarded to Aero Vote by the Commission is way below US$2 million in value (GHS7.2 million),” he said among other things in the statement.
Strangely, the EC has not been able to explain to the public how they ended up with GH¢7.2 million as the contract sum after Aero Vote had quoted GH¢8.9 million at the opening of the actual tender.
According to the procurement rules, any transaction worth more than GH¢1 million should automatically go through the Central Tender Board for concurrent approval but in this Pink Sheet contract which the EC says cost the taxpayer GH¢7.2 million, it does not appear that rule was followed.
Besides, the EC Boss, a lawyer, is said to be the Chairperson of the commission's Entity Board and the Central Tender Board was allegedly ignored.
The EC Boss, in a controversial letter to the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) in September asking the authority to re-open the process and admit Aero Vote to be part of the process, had laid emphasis on the issue of value-for-money as her basis for getting the company in.
Curiously, the EC as far back as October 2015 had written to PPA about the procurement of electoral materials including the pink sheets and had presented a list of companies that were going to be part of the process excluding Aero Vote.
However, eyebrows were raised last September, one clear year after the submission of the list, when the EC Boss wrote again to the PPA asking the authority to include Aero Vote in the process.
Aero Vote Existence
A source told DAILY GUIDE that he believed that as at October 2015 when the EC Boss was writing to the PPA to submit the list of companies to be engaged in the tendering process, Aero Vote was not even registered in Ghana.
“Everything was given to the highest bidder. There was nothing like competitive prices as claimed by the EC Chairperson,” a source said, adding “the whole thing looked already fixed. You could see that the commission had made up its mind to award the contract to a particular company.”
The source further said that Aero Vote's selection appears to be in conflict with the procurement laws because the tender laws says that every participating company must have two years account (balance)sheet but that cannot be said to have been done.
Documents available to DAILY GUIDE showed that apart from Aero Vote, three other companies namely Buck Press, Acts Commercials and Innolink all put in bids but what was presented by local giant Buck Press looked very affordable to the taxpayer but was overlooked.
Buck Press' bid had a sub-total of GH¢3.582,830.00 at a VAT/NHIL rate of GH¢626,995.25 and a grand total of GH¢4.209,825.25 while Aero Vote had a sub-total of GH¢7.617,535.25 with a VAT/NHIL rate of GH¢1.333.068.67 and a grand total of GH¢8.950,603.92.
Acts Commercials presented a bid with a sub-total of GH¢7.753,005.00 at a VAT/NHIL rate of GH¢1.356,775.88 and a grand total of GH¢9.109,780.88 while Innolink submitted a sub-total of GH¢7.817,578.15 at a VAT/NHIL rate of GH¢1.368.076.18 and a grand total of GH¢9.185,654.33.
The EC Boss clarified the issues on BBC when she put up a spirited defence for Aero Vote saying “the company has always printed it (pink sheets) for us and has now relocated to Ghana which made their pricing better for us.”
However, the source contested Ms. Osei's claim saying the company had never been engaged by Ghana in previous elections.
He said there could not be any extra cost as claimed by the EC because the tender documents showed clearly that the election materials will be delivered at their warehouse directly.