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Wednesday , August 17 2022

‘Myth of Sisyphus’ and the central tender committee

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The main objective of the purchases of the state, or any other party through the tender committee is to obtain the best services or goods for the money paid, or the ideal combination of the cost and quality of the item over its life span. Those responsible for approving the procurement process, when determining the basis for evaluating bids, must consider the following:

l Not rely on the price factor alone in evaluating bids

l Choose the bid that provides the best value for money

l The best bids must be approved from a technical and pricing point of view, not just one of the two

What is happening in the Central Tender Committee, which is governed by strict laws, is a totally different matter, as we often find that it gives weight to the price at the expense of quality.

If we take the following two examples, we will know that huge sums of public money is spent that does not benefit the state, but only gives bad reputation for the state, both internally and externally and this is in addition to the precious time that has been wasted in re-ordering the same material after it is damaged, as a result chaos happens everywhere because our inclination is only towards the cost of the item and end up wasting double that amount.

The first example: There are chairs for visitors in all state facilities and most of them are uncomfortable, the designs are ugly, and quality is poor, and are often gets damaged soon and have be replaced by other goods unfortunately of the same quality, and this happens for decades as if the ministry is ‘Sisyphus’ – a legendary king of Corinth condemned eternally to repeatedly roll a heavy rock up a hill in Hades only to have it roll down again as it nears the top.

The reason for this is that the CTC Board and the supplier are constrained by the magic price criterion.

Second example: Cleaning and other work requires heavy use of unskilled labor. Various government agencies assign cleaning work to cleaning companies, and the Public Manpower Authority sets the minimum salary for these. When tenders are opened, the tender is often awarded to the lowest price, which in many cases is even lower than the salary set by the legal authority.

We know that the recruitment of any cleaning worker requires money to be spent on many things other than the salary, such as travel tickets, the worker’s exit registration fees from his homeland, and his entry fees to Kuwait, including health insurance, residence fees and medical examination. The worker will need a place to live and three meals a day, in addition to the cost of transportation to and from his place of work, the cost of work uniform while on duty, treatment and other things, and finally a specific percentage representing the company’s profits.

How can we believe that the winning company, for example, with a contract to supply 6,000 workers, will be able to do so when the price it submitted is even less than the amount of the worker’s monthly salary, set by law, let alone all the other costs involved to recruit six thousand workers, and the company’s profits.

How does any government agency award the tender to a company while its price is less than the cost set by the ministry, and it knows for sure that the contractor will not lose and will inevitably manipulate to avoid loss.

Note: I mentioned in yesterday’s article the story of the watermelon truck that overturned in Baghdad, and how some people took some of them while they were on their way to pray.

It is important to clarify the fact that this contradiction in behavior exists in all our countries, and not limited to the people of a particular city.

e-mail: a.alsarraf@alqabas.com.kw

By Ahmad alsarraf