Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL) has filed a formal protest against their loss of a bid to supply boxed juices for the national school feeding programme which went to Surinamese company, Rudisa.
“There was a statement that government released which basically said that aggrieved parties should use the stipulated channels to protest so the company has decided to do that,” Public Relations consultant for DDL, Alex Graham told Stabroek News yesterday.
“We have written the letter to the Bid Protest Committee and will exercise that avenue and we will withhold a public statement until the process is completed,” he added, while pointing out that the company is following the section in the Procurement Act that speaks to protesting an award.
The contract that DDL is protesting is an award that went to the Suriname company, Caribbean International Distributors Inc.(CIDI), a subsidiary of Rudisa, for the supply and distribution of boxed juices for national distribution, under the Ministry of Education’s (MOE) National School Feeding Programme.
Four bids were submitted on May 24th of this year when the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB) opened tenders at its Main and Urquhart streets office, Georgetown.
The table below reflects the companies that tendered for the contract and their respective amounts.
DDL produces Topco juices and Guyana Beverages Inc. is the distributor for the Fruta Kool Kidz juices.
DDL had written to the government after the company lost the bid to supply juices to nursery schools, the first since the former People’s Progressive Party/Civic government replaced milk with juices back in 2010, under the National School Feeding Programme. The programme allowed for each child to receive one box of juice along with seven biscuits, as a mid-morning snack.
It is not clear if the company received a reply from government but last week Saturday government issued a release affirming the right to protest by companies but pointed out the legal mechanisms to do so.
While not giving the name of the aggrieved company, government informed that it had received a report by a manufacturer over the award of the contract for the supply and delivery of boxed juices. It was because of the concerns raised with it by the manufacturer that government urged bidders for contracts for the provisions of goods and services to the state, to use the Bid Protest Committee established under the Procurement Act to address any concerns about the tendering process.
The statement said that in the case of the contract for the supply of the boxed juice, a recommendation was made by the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board to have the contract awarded to the third highest bidder (Rudisa) as it had satisfied all the technical and administrative requirements. Cabinet subsequently offered its no objection to the recommendation and the contract was awarded accordingly.
It further noted that Cabinet was advised that the lowest bidder (DDL) was not recommended for the contract in view of continued issues with past performance dating back to 2012.
“Further, the second lowest bid did not meet a technical requirement of 25% natural juice content in each box after tests conducted by the Food and Drug Department,” it added.
Efforts by Stabroek News to contact management of the Fruta distributors for comment proved futile, as the number listed for the parent company S.M Jaleel and Company limited, in Trinidad and Tobago, rang out and at the time this newspaper visited the Diamond, East Bank Demerara office it was closed.
ANSA McAl’s Chief Executive Officer Beverly Harper informed that her company was not notified by the procuring entity of the decision or reason for their loss but could not immediately say if they would also protest.
Stabroek News understands from the NPTAB that the main contention by DDL was that although they were notified through the correct channels, they are at a loss about what “issues with past performances” NPTAB’s evaluators used to arrive at their decision and reject them.
An executive of DDL would only say that “they don’t cite anything specific”.
This newspaper was referred to Chairman of the Bid Protest Committee Attorney Joann Bond to answer any questions pertaining to the committee, but numerous efforts to reach her proved futile. As such it is unclear if the Committee is in receipt of the protest by DDL.
The Bid Protest Committee, which was established in June of this year under the Public Procurement Act, is chaired by Bond and includes former GTT General Manager Archibald Clifton and Insurance Broker Ewart Adams.
Section 52 of Guyana’s Procurement Act provides for written protests by a bidder whose tender or proposal has been rejected that they may submit a written protest to the procuring entity. However, if the procurement proceedings have already led to an effective contract, the complainant may complain directly to the BPC.
The final contract award is suspended during this period.
The protest must be submitted within five business days following publication of the contract award decision. If the protest is not reviewed by the procuring entity within five business days from the date of the protest’s submission, the bidder may submit a request for review to the National Board, in the absence of the Public Procurement Commission. The National Board shall conduct bid protest reviews through an independent, three-person BPC.
According to the Procurement Act, the BPC, after receipt of the protest, shall issue a written decision within (15) fifteen business days of the conclusion of a review, stating the reasons for the decision and the remedies granted, if any. Its decision shall be final.