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Sri Lanka:The Rs. 4 Billion Computer Scam!

Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Mahindodaya Technological Lab concept to provide technological labs for 1,000 secondary schools in the country has become yet another money spinning machine for those who are allegedly close to the former first family, The Sunday Leader learns.

Although, the previous regime boosted to have introduced computer labs to secondary schools in the country as a concept of the then President, it has now come to light as to how Hambantota District UPFA Parliamentarian Namal Rajapaksa was allegedly fully involved in the tender procedure to get the tender awarded to one of his close associates who has provided jobs for his party loyalists in Hambantota.

“In mid 2013, tenders were called to supply, delivery, installation, networking, commissioning and maintenance of computers and accessories for Mahindodaya Technological labs under the 1,000 secondary school development programme.

However cancelling the first tender notice, the education Ministry once again called for tenders from prospective bidders with domestic preference to which the major vendors in the business did not send quotations other than three parties, E.W. Information Systems Limited (E-WIS), Abans Limited and yet another insignificant company that has an affiliation with the E.W. Information Systems Limited,” Education Ministry sources said.

Bidding document that says only 25% of the total contract can be extended based on the same order – Copy and Ministry of finace circular to consider domestic preference for bidders

When Education Ministry officials inquired as to why the first tender notification was cancelled and a fresh tender was called with new regulations, Ministry Secretary and other higher officials had stated that they could not trust the first technical evaluation committee (TEC) and had to appoint another TEC by appointing the members who could be controlled allegedly by the Ministry Secretary, MPs Namal Rajapaksa and Sajin Vass Gunawardena.

“Although there are many major companies that could send their quotations, most of them did not take part in the bid because Education Ministry wanted domestic preference at the time of the bid evaluation. This has been enforced by the Treasury Secretary in a circular dated January 2, 2013,” the sources added.

As a result , E.W. Information Systems (E-WIS) Limited, who sent the lowest prices, was awarded the tender to supply, delivery, installation, networking, commissioning and maintenance of computers and accessories for 100 Mahindodaya Technological labs in the country.

“The vendor had to supply 6,600 personal computer systems, 6,600 UPSs, 400 printers, 100 scanners, 85 laptop computers and network cabling for 100 schools and power cabling for the schools,” sources said.

According to the sources, although there was nothing wrong in awarding the tender to E.W. Information system it is questionable as to why the Education Ministry kept on giving the same company the contract to supply computers and other required equipments to 700 more schools without calling tenders. “We do not have any issue of awarding this tender to the prospective lowest bidder but the question is, how the Education Ministry could give the same company the contract to provide computers and other equipments for another700 schools on four other occasions without calling for tenders,” sources alleged.

According to the sources, the most critical issue in the procurement is that E-WIS was awarded the same contract on three separate occasions to provide personal computer systems, UPSs, printers, scanners, laptop computers and network cabling and power cabling for 300 schools said to be based on a cabinet approval and for the fourth time E-WIS was once again given the opportunity to supply the same equipment for 400 schools at one occasion.

“This is totally against the government procedure and according to the tender published by Ministry of Education, only 25% of the total contract can be extended based on the same order. According to the award of contract, at the time contract is awarded, the purchaser reserves the right to increase or decrease the quantity of goods and related services originally specified in section V, schedule of requirements, provided this does not exceed twenty five percent (25%) or one unit whichever is higher and without any change in the unit prices or other terms and conditions of the bid and the biding documents,” sources alleged.

The sources alleged how unfair it was to give the contract to the same company over and over without calling for tenders and added that it was done to ensure that MP Namal Rajapaksa’s confidant the owner of the E-WIS is benefitting from the Mahindodaya Technological Lab concept.

“The initial bid value to supply, deliver and install the computers for 100 schools was Rs.708 million. When the same contract was given on three separate occasions for hundred schools each and when the fourth contract was given for 400 schools at once, the contract amount E-WIS obtained Rs.4,956 million. If the Education Ministry called for tenders and was offered this tender to this company, we do not have any issue but since politics entered and prevented any other party to get the contract, the Education Ministry officials are highly concerned,” sources claimed.

With the dawn of a new regime, and those who were involved in money making through tender benders are no more in power, the Education Ministry officials are waiting to take up the issue with the newly appointed Education Minister and his officers to stop bribery and corruption that was taking place in the ministry.
By Nirmala Kannangara –
Sunday Leader


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