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Questionable contracts could spell trouble for REP employees

Published:Friday | July 27, 2012 | 12:00 AM

AT LEAST 17 contracts with an aggregate value of $35 million, reportedly awarded by the Rural Electrification Programme (REP) to two unregistered companies, could land key persons at the government agency in big trouble with the law.

The Office of the Contractor General (OCG) yesterday despatched the findings of a Special Enquiry Audit into the Quarterly Contract Award (QCA) Reports of the REP to the commissioner of police, the director of public prosecutions and Parliament.

It was disclosed that the highest valued contract was $4.9 million, and the lowest, $453,900. At the time, public bodies were barred from awarding contracts, in excess of $275,000 in value, to a contractor which was not duly registered with the National Contracts Commission (NCC).

In a media release yesterday, the Greg Christie-led OCG said the audit was triggered after the oversight body discovered that several contracts, amounting to millions of dollars, had been awarded by REP to two companies that were not registered with the NCC as is required by the Government Procurement Guidelines and the Public Sector Procurement Regulations.

Fake registration numbers

Christie revealed that fictitious NCC contractor registration numbers were entered upon the REP's QCA reports for several quarters in an attempt to demonstrate that the companies were duly registered.

It is a criminal offence under Section 29 of the Contractor General Act to make a false statement to mislead a contractor general.

In addition, it is a criminal offence, under Section 40 of the Public Sector Procurement Regulations, to award a government contract in contravention of the regulations.

Copies of the OCG report have also been sent to Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining Phillip Paulwell and the permanent secretary, Hilary Alexander. A copy of the report was also sent to the general manager of REP, Garfield Daley.