Giftland calls for probe of original laptop tender

-says checks with wrong dealer to blame for counterfeit claims

President of Giftland OfficeMax Roy Beepat yesterday said that there appeared to be “ad hoc” adjustments to the original requirements in the first tender for the supply of computers for the One Laptop Per Family (OLPF) project and called on Minister Manzoor Nadir to conduct an independent probe into the matter.

Responding to statements made by Nadir and Project Manager Sesh Sukhdeo during a press conference on Tuesday, Beepat again staunchly defended his company’s bid and denied that the sample it submitted was counterfeit and argued that checks were made with the wrong dealer.

Contacted last evening, Nadir, who holds Cabinet responsibility for the OLPF project, played down the likelihood of an independent evaluation. “I have faith in the system,” he said.  He said that while Beepat may genuinely believe he had a compliant bid, the officials from Lenovo clearly said that the sample provided had not been produced by the company. He also said that very recent correspondence from Domingo J Alonso, Lenovo USA’s Territory Manager for Central America and Caribbean, did not indicate a change in this position. Alonso, Nadir said, has said categorically that the company he represented did not want to do business with Giftland.

This newspaper managed to see a copy of the email sent by Alonso, and in that correspondence Alonso had said that the matter had been sent to the Lenovo’s legal department in both US and China for further review.

However, Beepat, in his release, said that his company never contended that the laptop was a Lenovo USA design. “We went through HK DSJ a subcontracted seller and manufacturer for Lenovo China for the product,” he said.

This, he added, was done to reduce cost. Giftland’s bid was the lowest of the companies that had bid for the first tender. “We have supplied the Lenovo Sales and OEM Manufacturing authorization certificates (and with translated copies) that endorses HK DSJ (our China supplier) to the government, to the press and to Lenovo USA,” he stated.
Further, Beepat denied that his company was not compliant since it had a third party provide the warranty for the computers in the original bid.  “We challenge anyone to point out where in the Tender Document that it stated that we were not allowed to have external consultants brought onboard to manage the warranty for the tender,” Beepat said.

According to him, the tender document asked the bidder to show how the service of the warranty would be achieved, information which was provided by Giftland. “This highlights the problem that Giftland faces with the Tender process since a non-issue such as this is, which has not been clearly spelt out, can become a pass or fail point,” he said. “We are mystified that if a bidder fills all the requirements then something previously unstated and arbitrary can become the basis for rejecting a bid (as highlighted in the issue with the 3rd party consultants).”

Beepat also said that given that the nation is monitoring this process and transparency is vital, “ad hoc adjustments to the requirements should not be allowed.” He argued that the government was being misled by Sukhdeo and questioned his qualifications.

“Giftland wishes to state categorically that we are not anti-government in any way and are saddened that this could not have been worked out in private,” Beepat said. “Despite this Giftland will press on and retender for this important project for the people of Guyana. We sincerely wish Minister Nadir and the Government all the best in his efforts and urge the Minister to conduct his own independent evaluation,” he said.

When this was raised with Nadir last evening, he said that it was up to the bidder to prove that their company could provide the warranty. “This is a warranty that the bidder has to prove. Our job is not to go now and check the bona fides of someone who sent a letter,” Nadir said. In relation to the new certificate that Giftland has now submitted, Nadir said that these have no bearing on the old tender. “If he is going to retender with this certificate, he has to double and triple check to make sure it is genuine,” Nadir said.

The retender for the supply of instruments for the OLPF is expected to be launched shortly. A retender placed on government procurement website www.eprocure.gov. gy last Thursday was pulled down after it was mistakenly published.

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