PS Torome under fire over flower tender

The move saw taxpayers’ suffer Sh570,324 loss at the state department

In Summary
  • MPs at the watchdog committee questioned the rationale used by the ministry to ignore the cheapest bidder.
  • The PS also came under fire over a decision to used direct procurement air tickets from various service providers amounting to Sh21 million.
Garissa Township MP Aden Duale.
TENDERS: Garissa Township MP Aden Duale.

Planning PS Saitoti Torome was on Tuesday tasked to explain how the state department ignored the lowest bidder and instead awarded flower contracts to the second highest tenderer.

This occasioned a 570,000 yearly loss.  Members of the National Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee heard that the state department awarded M/s Viviennes Super Florists a tender to supply flowers to various offices at a cost of Sh1,068,000 per annum.

In awarding the tender that is now subject of audit query, the ministry bypassed the lowest bidder who quoted Sh497,676 for a similar period.

The move saw taxpayers suffer Sh570,324 loss.

MPs at the watchdog committee questioned the rationale used to ignore the cheapest bidder offering almost half that of the winner.

PS Torome was also at pains to explain who ordered for the flowers after the ministry failed to table relevant documents to justify the supply.

“Show me any document from the Ministry of Planning showing we need to be supplied with the flowers?” Garissa Township MP Aden Duale asked.

Torome told the committee chaired by Duale that the lowest bidder was knocked after it emerged they had not met the mandatory requirements specified in the 2018 tender.

“The Evaluation Committee recommended award to M/s Viviennes Super Florists, who was the lowest evaluated bidder. The lowest bidder, in cost, was not awarded because they did not comply with all the mandatory requirements of the tender,” Torome said.

“From the tender analysis report, the bidder did not submit the required security declaration form. Therefore, M/s Viviennes Super Florists was found to be lowest responsive to the state department’s requirements and was therefore awarded the tender.”

Torome was appearing before PAC to respond to issues raised by Auditor General Nancy Gathungu in her 2019-20 audit report.

The PS also came under fire over a decision to directly procure air tickets from various service providers amounting to Sh21 million contrary to Section 103 (2) of the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Act, 2015.

According to Gathungu’s report, the department also procured 4,000 copies of the sixth National Monitoring and Evaluation Week report at a cost of Sh3.4 million through direct procurement without appropriate explanation.

“Under the circumstances, the value for money for the above expenditure, Sh24.6 million could not be confirmed,” Gathungu said in her report.

In his defence, the PS admitted resorting to direct procurement but explained the travel agents engaged were registered with the state department for provision of air ticketing services.

“Due to the nature of the services and sometimes the short period between the approval and the travel dates, it was practically impossible to use any other procurement method,” the PS said.

(Edited by Bilha Makokha)