The newly established Bid Protest Committee (BPC) now has three cases to deliberate on as Guyana Beverages Inc (GBI), has joined Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL) in protesting the award for the supply of juices to the Ministry of Education’s distribution programme.
The BPC received its first protest, from the Cevons Waste Management Group, shortly after its establishment in July of this year, on the grounds that a $221M contract for the management and maintenance of the Haags Bosch landfill on the East Bank Demerara had been improperly awarded to Puran Brothers Disposal Inc.
Representative of Guyana Beverages Inc, Mark Pelting, whose company supplies the Fruta Kool Kidz brand of juice, told Stabroek News yesterday that his company has now also submitted a formal protest on the juice supply and delivery contract award. “We are also challenging this award. We feel too, that we have been unjustly disqualified and we want them to explain to us why”.
The contract that GBI and DDL are 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 for the contract, 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 locally and Guyana Beverages Inc. is the distributor for the Fruta Kool Kidz juices which are made in Trinidad.
DDL had written to the government after the company lost the bid to supply juices, the first time 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.
The GBI representative told Stabroek News yesterday that when the company became aware that it lost the bid to the third highest dollar bidder it decided to protest as not only was their bid low but they met every other technical and administrative requirement.
The NPTAB has always stressed that the lowest dollar bid does not automatically mean the lowest responsive bid, as it checks also for a serious of other requirements in its evaluation of tenders. These requirements include, but are not limited to, National Insurance Scheme (NIS) compliance, Guyana Revenue Authority Compliance (GRA), experience in the tendered field and pending litigations.
It is for this reason that Pelting stressed that he is confident that his company met all the requirements. “Our product, Kool Kidz, complies with everything asked for. We satisfied price requirement also because we were the second lowest bid,” Pelting said.
A statement from the government last week said that in the case of the contract for the supply of the boxed juices, a recommendation was made by the NPTAB 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 issues with past performance dating back to 2012.
“Further, the second lowest bid (Guyana Beverages) 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.
But a shocked Pelting said that he wants government to explain what method of scientific testing was done and how it was determined that their product did not meet the required natural juice content, when the same product is sold in every region and undergoes rigorous testing in Trinidad and Tobago to meet standards claimed. “In our opinion we met every requirement that tender asked for…for them to say we are not meeting that minimum amount I don’t understand. We are kindly asking an explanation of what kind of tests were done. Was it done on all the products and so on? We need to know these things because we carry a good product,” he asserted.
DDL has said that it made its protest and it awaits word on a hearing from the BPC as it is ready to defend its product.